DV-16-06 Developing a genetic toolkit to detect spawning events of giant sea scallops

Richard Wahle
School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine
Email Richard Wahle

Skylar Bayer
School of Marine Sciences
University of Maine
Email Skylar Bayer

Peter Countway
Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences
Email Peter Countway

The giant sea scallop (Placopecten magellanicus) is an incredibly valuable seafood species harvested in the Gulf of Maine. The scallop is a “free-spawning” species, releasing gametes into the water column. Monitoring spawning events would inform predictions of future scallop stocks, however detecting such events in real time is extremely difficult. It is nearly impossible to visually distinguish scallop gametes from other bivalve gametes. Identifying gamete abundance and release frequency during a spawning season may help indicate productive versus unproductive populations and could be related to other environmental variables that could affect the quality of local Maine seafood. However, detecting spawning events is extremely difficult to do in real time or see visually.

Researchers developed a technique to measure gamete concentrations of giant sea scallops in the water column using quantitative genetics. They developed scallop-specific PCR primers to quantify scallop spawn in a laboratory setting. They successfully applied for additional funds to test the method in the field.

Sea Grant funds $3,758