Using genomic information to understand and improve the quality of the Australian South Sea Pearl (2010–2015)
Australia produces the South Sea Pearl, the world's most valuable pearl. Using a functional genomic approach, we already have identified 3000 genes expressed in the cells responsible for giving the pearl its stunning properties. Included amongst these are genes of propriety interest, many of which encode secreted proteins that biofabricate the pearl. By analysing gene expression in donor mantle tissues and pearl sacs in individuals that give rise to pearls of differing worth, we will identify the genes underlying pearl quality - colour, lustre and size. This knowledge will be used to identify individual pearl oysters that are ideal sources of high-quality donor tissue and that can be used in selective breeding programs.