One of the major impediments to spiny lobster aquaculture is the high cost of hatchery production due to the long and complex larval cycle and poor survival during the many moult stages, especially at metamorphosis. We examined if the key trait of larval survival can be improved through selection by determining if genetic variance exists for this trait. Specifically, we report, for the first time, genetic parameters (heritability and correlations) for early survival rates recorded at five larval phases; early-phyllosoma stages (instars 1-6; S1), mid-phyllosoma stages (instars; 7-12; S2), late-phyllosoma stages (instars 13-17; S3), metamorphosis (S4) and puerulus stage (S5) in hatchery-reared spiny lobster Sagmariasus verreauxi. Results: The data were collected from a total of 235,060 larvae produced from 18 sires and 30 dams over nine years (2006 to 2014). Parentage of the offspring and full-sib families was verified using ten microsatellite markers. Analysis of variance components showed that the estimates of heritability for all the five phases of larval survival obtained from linear mixed model were generally similar to those obtained from threshold logistic generalised models (0.03-0.47 vs. 0.01-0.50). The heritability estimates for survival traits recorded in the early larval phases (S1 and S2) were higher than those estimated in later phases (S3, S4 and S5). The existence of the additive genetic component in larval survival traits indicate that they could be improved through selection. Both phenotypic and genetic correlations among the five survival measures studied were moderate to high and positive. The genetic associations between successive rearing periods were stronger than those that are further apart. Conclusions: Our estimates of heritability and genetic correlations reported here in a spiny lobster species indicate that improvement in the early survival especially during metamorphosis can be achieved through genetic selection in this highly economic value species. © 2018 The Author(s).
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Nguyen, N.H., Fitzgibbon, Q.P., Quinn, J., Smith, G., Battaglene, S. & Knibb, W. 2018, "Can metamorphosis survival during larval development in spiny lobster Sagmariasus verreauxi be improved through quantitative genetic inheritance?", BMC Genetics, vol. 19, no. 1.
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