First ever fish gene database in Bangladesh

Iftekhar Mahmud . Dhaka | Update:

Puti, tengra and many other local fish species face extinction for various reasons, including pollution. A Prothom Alo IllustrationA database of 20 species of freshwater fish genes found in Bangladesh has been created for the first time ever in the country through which freshwater fish can be identified precisely. At the same time, the number of fish species in a river and their increase and decrease does not have to be calculated in the traditional way. It will be possible to determine through examining the fish tissue or fishes’ DNA in the river water or soil.

The database was jointly created by four scientists from the Department of Zoology of the University of Dhaka and the Swedish Natural History Museum. Their research article was published last June in the Scientific Report magazine of the world's influential science journal Nature-Publishing Group.

Funded by the Swedish Research Council, the research project was supervised by the assistant professor Mizanur Rahman and professor Abdur Rob Molla of the zoology department at Dhaka University and curator Michael Noren and professor Sven Kullander of the Swedish Natural History Museum. The study started in 2013 ended this year. They collected about 3000 fish samples from different rivers of Bangladesh.

Mizanur Rahman, the principal coordinator of the research project, told Prothom Alo that a special gene sequence and integrated DNA database was created for all the fish of a country for the first time in South Asia.
He said many local species are threatened now due to climate change, pollution and various human-created problems.

A database of genetic data was needed to determine the number and breadth of the country's freshwater fish resources, he said, adding that now the gene database can play an important role in the identification, monitoring, management and conservation of diverse freshwater fish.

"We will find out if a new fish has arrived in Bangladesh's waters or whether any fish has left Bangladesh. This information can be used to protect the country's fish,” said the professor of zoology department of DU Abdur Rab.

A genome is an organism's genetic trait or map. All traits of heredity are controlled by one or several genes. The first step in understanding its features is to uncover the gene design. The unique gene variant can be used as a barcode for identifying species or numbers.

Director general of Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute, Yahia Mahmud, told Prothom Alo, "This research will be useful for the development and sustainable management of fisheries resources of the country. Also, the database will play an important role in understanding and preserving the diversity and habitat of the fish.

These barcode sequences, DNA-related information have already been submitted to the US-based international gene bank operating under National Centre for Biotechnology Information, and to the largest DNA barcode database, the Barcode of Life Database. This DNA-based database can be used to describe registered and new species of fish, their current status and about endangered species and to detect foreign and invasive species in the country.

Head of the Eco-Fish project at World Fish Bangladesh and Fisheries Research Institute, professor Abdul Wahab, told Prothom Alo that this database could also be used to identify and ensure the content and quality of fish and in making fish groups based on their nutritional quality.

*This report, published in Prothom Alo print edition, has been rewritten in English by Farjana Liakat

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