Coming soon: Salmon eggs bred for sea lice, PD resistance

Published on
September 21, 2015

Genetics company SalmoBreed AS has stumbled upon what it calls an epochal breakthrough in breeding salmon for sea lice and PD- resistance.

By utilizing a new genetic method in aquaculture known as genomic selection, SalmoBreed AS – which specializes in the breeding of Atlantic salmon – has been able to select the best broodstock associated with sea lice and PD resistance and, in doing so, increase genetic progress, reduce the rate of inbreeding and run a more sustainable breeding program, according Borghild Hillestad, Genetics and Genomics Manager at SalmoBreed AS.

“It has long been proven that genomic selection provides increased genetic gain and reduced rate of inbreeding in species such as cattle, pigs and poultry. Now, SalmoBreed finally implements this technology on salmon as well, initially for PD- and sea lice resistance,” said Jan-Emil Johannessen, CEO of SalmoBreed AS.

Previously, the company measured sea lice resistance based solely on lice counting results conducted on family fish. Genomic selection, however, offers a more extensive reading of such metrics.

“For sea lice resistance, genetic ranking has been based on family information from challenge tests. We have therefore only been able to select between families, without knowing anything about the properties of the individual broodstock. With genomic selection, we can select those individuals showing the highest resistance to sea lice within each separate family, and hence get a stronger assurance that the eggs we supply actually have the desired genetic value of the trait of interest,” explained Borghild Hillestad, Genetics and Genomics Manager in SalmoBreed AS.

By way of the method, “it will be possible to reduce the number of sea lice treatments in the sea” and thus, promote future cost savings for the salmon aquaculture industry at large, said Hillestad.

“This is a breakthrough for our company, but also for the entire salmon industry that will have the opportunity to make use of the results already from fry produced this autumn,” concluded Johannessen.

R&D analysis for the genomic selection methodology and technology was conducted by Salmobreed AS in cooperation with Nofima and others as part of a Research Council of Norway innovation project. The company intends to implement genomic selection measures into its egg production starting this fall.

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