Benchmark expands Reproductive Technologies team

Aquaculture biotech company Benchmark has hired Dr Diego Crespo as the latest recruit to its new Reproductive Technologies team.

Dr Crespo joins from the Institute of Marine Research in Bergen, Norway (IMR). He brings over 15 years of experience of fish reproduction and biotechnology, including CRISPR gene editing targeting sterility. Crespo will maintain his strong links with IMR in joint projects, supporting a major collaboration between the two organisations in this field. This includes a recently funded collaborative project from the Norwegian Research Council, “Accelerated genetic improvement of key traits in farmed Atlantic salmon via transplantation of in vitro propagated germline stem cells”.

The Reproductive Technologies R&D team will focus on innovation in the sector, including sterility without triploidy and commercial-scale applications of gene editing. These will lead, Benchmark said, to future salmon products with enhanced performance and health, such as genetic resistance to diseases and preventing precocious maturation in farmed production.

Dr Zhiqiang Zeng and Stefan Eggertsson joined the team earlier in the year. Zeng brings over 20 years of experience of in developmental biology, transgenics, and gene editing. Eggertsson is a recent Masters graduate with expertise in molecular biology and gene editing in model organisms.

The team will be centred around state-of-the-art research facilities in Reykjavík, Iceland, under the leadership of Dr Eduardo Rodriguez, and benefiting from the year-round Atlantic salmon reproduction in the commercial breeding program.

Dr Ross Houston, Benchmark’s Director of Genetics and Innovation, commented: “We see breakthroughs in Reproductive Technologies and their integration with commercial-scale breeding programs as a major frontier in innovation for applied aquaculture genetics.

“With our strategic expansion in R&D in this area, we are consolidating our position as a leading company in this area globally, poised to bring these breakthroughs to customers to benefit industry sustainability, animal health and welfare. We achieve this through strategic collaboration with world-leading research groups and targeted internal programs of close-to-market research and commercial-scale product development.”

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