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Building A Cosmopolitan Aquatic Germplasm Bank
Such aquatic products as fish, shrimp, shellfish and seaweed are delicious foodstuff, and seaweeds are even potential resources of biomass energy. As conservation concepts prevailing, preservation of native species has gained more attention and local fish, shrimp, shellfish and seaweed have been collected by germplasm banks as individual resources needed when carrying out restoration projects.
The Fisheries Research Institute (FRI), which is in charge of preserving aquatic genetic resources, tried to establish a conservation area for marine fishery resources in Penghu's Chin-wan Inner Bay in 2005 to protect native aquatic species on the spot. Since there are numerous aquatic species including coral, coral reef fish, sand crab, sand shrimp, horseshoe crab and rockfish grouper (Epinephelus quoyanus). The FRI is determined to protect Chin-wan's ecological environment so that all aquatic species there will not become extinct, making the place the best natural in situ conservation germplasm bank.
For many years the FRI has established various germplasm bank branches according to biological characteristics of genetic resources, breeding goals and the environment of germplasm bank sites and gene backups are also stored there for risk diversification. Since many aquatic species with economic value are imported from abroad, setting up germplasm banks to preserve
their genetic resources is ex situ conservation. The FRI established freshwater species germpllasm bank branch in Lukang and marine species branch in Penghu at first and then set up backup germplasm banks in Tungkang and Taitung for risk diversification.
Therefore, every branch has gradually developed its own mission of preserving genetic resources of aquatic species. In addition to Penghu Marine Biology Research Center, Freshwater Aquaculture Research Center in Lukang has constructed genetic conservation building, breeding and genetic building, and conservation greenhouses; Tungkang Biotechnology Research Center has established Nuclear Breeding Center and developed biosecure culture system for SPF penaeid shrimps; and as the Taitung branch of the National Marine Germplasm Center, Eastern Marine Biology Research Center has used the deep sea water to breed highly valued marine species, quality seedlings and algae and conserved genetic resources of important marine species.
In addition to fishes and shellfishes, feed organisms which sustain fish and shellfish growth are also preserved in germplasm centers. Feed organism germplasm conserved by the FRI include microalgae, rotifers and copepods.
Germplasm banks in the form of ex situ conservation are the extension of in situ conservation concept, but river sections for fish conservation cared by all government agencies and civic groups or communities, in fact, are the best natural germplasm banks for native freshwater fishes and other river species in Taiwan.
The most direct way of preserving aquatic genetic resources is to reproduce in cultivation ponds selected individuals from collected species, keeping a group of the species as germplasm for mass reproduction when it is needed in the future. Since more space for preservation is needed when more species are collected, so the species to be conserved have to be selected carefully.
The originally imported strains and strains of aquatic species with high economic value are priority targets for germpllasm conservation. In order to lessen the urgent need for conservation space, techniques of freezing sperm and egg (germ cell) are developed. When the species is selected, preserve its frozen germ cell will occupy a much smaller space and it takes less human and material resources to reproduce the species by artificial insemination.
Besides, cell lines, DNA and other genetice resoucres are also collected for conservation.
As biotechnology progresses, the feasibility of transferring genetic materials from one organism into "surrogate mother" has increased significantly, acchieving the result of species conservation.