Groundbreaking Grant Approved for Genetic Study

In what scientists call a groundbreaking effort, the Fund for Lake Michigan has approved a grant to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (UWM) School of Freshwater Sciences to sequence the DNA and analyze the genetic makeup of three aquatic species, including Yellow Perch and the Green Bay Mayfly.

The Lake Michigan Genome Project will help safeguard and restore the Great Lakes fishery, promote species diversity and improve aquatic habitat.

“Our partners in Milwaukee are doing impressive, forward-thinking work,” said Vicki Elkin, executive director of the Fund for Lake Michigan. “By using the knowledge and technology our local water economy offers, we’re maximizing the impact of our investments.”

The UWM study is one of 22 recent awards totaling $1.6 million from the Fund for Lake Michigan. The Milwaukee-based foundation is working to restore habitat, improve water quality, promote tourism and lay the foundation for stronger ecosystems, communities, and economies.

“We’re incredibly excited,” said J. Val Klump, Dean at the UWM School of Freshwater Sciences. “This genomic data will open up new avenues of research and greatly expand the scientific understanding of the impact of human activities, climate change, emerging contaminants and other factors on Lake Michigan’s health.”

UWM hopes to ultimately develop a library of whole genome sequences for the most ecologically and culturally important Lake Michigan species. It is starting with perch and the mayfly because of their immediate importance to research or restoration projects. A third species to be sequenced may include important fisheries species such as Lake Whitefish, Lake Trout, Northern Pike, or Muskellunge.

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