Levels of genetic diversity and taxonomic status of Epinephelus species in United Arab Emirates fish markets

Remi N. Ketchum, Mame M. Dieng, Grace O. Vaughan, John Burt, Youssef Idaghdhour

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Understanding the patterns of genetic diversity of fish species is essential for marine conservation and management. This is particularly important in the Arabian Gulf where marine life is subject to extreme environmental conditions that could impact genetic diversity. Here we assess genetic diversity of the most commercially important fish in the United Arab Emirates; groupers (Epinephelus spp.). Sequencing of 973 bp mitochondrial DNA from 140 tissue samples collected in four main fish markets revealed 58 haplotypes clustered within three groups. Data analysis revealed the presence of three distinct Epinephelus species being marketed as one species (hammour): Epinephelus coioides, Epinephelus areolatus and Epinephelus bleekeri. We report species-specific genetic markers and demonstrate that all three species exhibit relatively low levels of genetic variation, reflecting the effect of overfishing and environmental pressures. In light of the genetic evidence presented here, conservation and management of groupers in the UAE warrant the implementation of species-specific measures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)540-545
Number of pages6
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 30 2016



  • 12s rRNA gene
  • Control region
  • D-loop
  • Hammour
  • Overfishing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oceanography
  • Aquatic Science
  • Pollution

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