Activity Report

Activity Report of Open Application Course vol.23

Practicing Molecular Biology in Myanmar’s Aquaculture Sector: Fish Species Identification Using DNA

Report from Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology

With support from the Sakura Science Exchange Program, the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology invited three people from Mawlamyine University, the Department of Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Irrigation and University of Yangon, in Myanmar, and implemented a course in joint research activities from Monday, October 21, to Tuesday, October 29, 2019.

Myanmar is the leading aquaculture country in Southeast Asia. The course, entitled Practicing Molecular Biology in Myanmar's Aquaculture Sector: Fish Species Identification Using DNA, was aimed toward contributing to the sustained development of young researchers who can support their country's aquaculture industry from a scientific standpoint in the future.

In general, fish species identification takes morphological characteristics as an indicator, but by using the base sequence (nucleotide sequence) of DNA, it is possible to identify the species, even when they are filleted. There appears to be still no real opportunity to learn DNA sequence analysis at their domestic aquaculture universities and institutions, and learning this technology by participants will also lead to supporting resource management for their home country's fishery products and their distribution from a scientific standpoint. To attain this object, the course invited faculty, researchers and graduate students from biological departments from their country's organizations under exchange agreements with the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology to conduct joint research activities at the educational and research sites of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology.

Checking capacity of a micro-pipette

During this period, the participants actually extracted DNA from tuna and amplified the target genes for fish species identification using PCR. The amplification was confirmed using electrophoresis. Next, amplified genes were cleaved using restriction enzymes and tuna species identification was implemented from that pattern. They also actually decrypted the base sequences of those genes in a DNA sequencer and matched them to the database.

Confirmation using electrophoresis of the PCR product
Shot of the results of electrophoresis

Furthermore, Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology owns multiple practice ships. Therefore, the participants visited Seiyo Maru (170 tons) at the docking yard of the Shinagawa campus of the Tokyo University of Marine Science and Technology and Umitaka Maru (1,886 tons) anchored at Toyomi Suisan wharf in Tokyo bay during this period to tour the ships and equipment and receive more lectures and the like. Sinyou Maru (986 tons) and Shioji Maru (425 tons) were also anchored at the wharf, where the participants could also see the other two university practice ships. This was the first experience for participants, as there are no such large practice vessels in Myanmar's aquaculture system organizations.

Viewing nautical charts at the Bridge of the Umitaka Maru