Disease and meat quality are of high importance to the aquaculture producer, processor and consumer. However, both disease resistance and meat quality traits are complex to understand and measure, costly to evaluate and slow to improve using current methods of selective breeding.
In this project we will develop new techniques, new knowledge and a new integration of expertise that will enable us to tackle the problem of selectively improving these complex traits.
We will focus on Atlantic salmon, but results from the project will be applicable to other aquaculture species. Simulation models will be developed to test what likely impact new techniques will have on genetic gain and to test alternative designs for selective breeding programs. The cost/benefits associated with the use of these methods and how the IP derived from such project can be well managed and fully exploited will be determined.
SalmoBreed is providing fish with known pedigree and preferred mating design from their breeding nucleus, while ScanVacc provides vaccines.
Totally three PhDs will be produces, while nine researchers are involved.
Nofima Mat is involved in developing NIR for measuring fat and pigmentation in live fish, and in utilising micro array analysis for measuring quality traits.
- Evaluate the potential application of a range of emerging technologies to selective breeding for speeding the genetic improvement of these important but challenging traits in aquaculture species.
- Develop a humane and efficient means of improving disease resistance in salmonids.
- Increase basic knowledge about the genetic determination of meat quality traits such as fillet colour, fillet yield and fat (content and type).
- Develop methods that will fully exploit the unique biological characteristics of aquaculture species to maximise genetic improvement.
Techniques for measuring and recording traits on live breeding candidates
- Measurement of gene expression profile patterns, their association with disease resistance and use as a tool for selective breeding.
- Development of equipment and methods to measure individual feed uptake.
- Use of imaging equipment for quantifying meat quality traits.
Improved knowledge of the genetic basis of the traits
- Establish an experimental resource population of Atlantic salmon.
- Comparison of prediction ability of breeding values using gene expression and challenge response data.
- How to record and obtain reliable genetic parameters for growth, feed efficiency and carcass quality traits.
Impact of new technologies and improved knowledge on the design of fish breeding programs
- Optimum contribution selection for schemes with pre-selection.
- Use of markers for parental assignment
- Breeding design to get unbiased prediction of breeding values across cohorts, sub-populations and generations.
- Two-tier selection strategies.
Cost benefit and exploitation of the new techniques
- Exploitation and management of new IP with application to selective breeding.
- Evaluation of costs/benefits for use of the new techniques.