Background: Cichlid fishes, particularly tilapias, are an important source of animal protein in tropical countries around the world. To support selective breeding of these species we are constructing genetic and physical maps of the tilapia genome. Physical maps linking collections of BAC clones are a critical resource for both positional cloning and assembly of whole genome sequences.
Results: We constructed a genome-wide physical map of the tilapia genome by restriction fingerprinting 35,245 bacterial artificial chromosome (BAC) clones using high-resolution capillary polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis. The map consists of 3,621 contigs and is estimated to span 1.752 Gb in physical length. An independent analysis of the marker content of four contigs demonstrates the reliability of the assembly.
Conclusion: This physical map is a powerful tool for accelerating genomic studies in cichlid fishes, including comparative mapping among fish species, long-range assembly of genomic shotgun sequences, and the positional cloning of genes underlying important phenotypic traits. The tilapia BAC fingerprint database is freely available at http://hcgs.unh.edu/fpc/image.php.