Selection, hybridization, and genome manipulation in the Siluroidei is reviewed. Selection topics include strain evaluation, qualitative traits, quantitative traits, mass selection, family selection, inbreeding, and crossbreeding. Hybridization is discussed with reference to culture traits. Genome manipulation technologies-sex reversal, gynogenesis, androgenesis, polyploidization, and gene transfer-are considered with application to genetic improvement of Siluroidei. Strains of ictalurid catfish Vary significantly for traits such as growth, disease resistance, harvestability, reproduction, body conformation and carcass yield. Growth of domestic strains can be 250% greater than that of wild strains. Strain differences have also been
identified for clariid, bagrid, and silurid catfishes. Mass selection has increascd growth rate by up to 30%. Heritability estimates predict a response to selection for the traits of disease resistance and tolerance to low oxygen levels. Crossbreeding strains of Ictalurus punctatus have improved growth, disease resistance and reproductive performance. Two generations of inbreeding depressed body weight of I. punctatus as much as 30%, and can reduce viability and reproductive performance. Hybridization of I. punctatus X I. furcatus has resulted in a 20% increase in growth. Traits for tolerance to oxygen deficit, feed conversion, disease resistance, harvestability, and carcass yield were also improved. Interspecific, intergeneric, and interfamilial hybrids have been made with clariid fishes; heterotic growth was indicated. Hybridization has also been used to combine desirable traits of parental species. Sex reversal of I. punctatus using estrogen treatment followed by progeny testing can result in monosex, all-male populations. Gynogenesis and androgenesis are approaches to production of inbred lines of catfish, but thus far have limited application in aquaculture. Polyploidization has been applied in several ictalurid, silurid, and clariid fishes, but predicted improvements in performance have not been realized. Gene transfer has been accomplished in I. punctatus and Clarias gariepinus using microinjection and electroporation; the foreign genes have been expressed and inherited. Transgenic I. punctatus containing salmonid growth hormone genes grew 20–40% faster than controls.