Genetic discovery brings welfare benefits – Fishupdate.com

Genetic discovery brings welfare benefits Published:  04 February, 2008

Alan Tinch

SIGNIFICANT improvements in the welfare and commercial performance of farmed Atlantic salmon are being achieved by the Scotland and Chile-based breeding company, Landcatch Natural Selection (LNS), it was claimed today.

LNS says it is the first company to successfully locate a major gene which affects resistance to infectious pancreatic necrosis (IPN), a discovery which is now being used commercially to further improve IPN resistance in Landcatch Atlantic salmon.

Initially unveiled in headline terms at AquaNor 2007, as a ‘quantum leap’ in salmon breeding, full details of the breakthrough are now explained in a scientific paper carried in the latest edition of the international Journal ‘Genetics’.

The successful location of this important gene is the result of collaboration between geneticists at LNS and scientists at Roslin Institute and the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling University, whose combined research was based on over 10 years of data and DNA samples collected from pedigree Landcatch Atlantic salmon.

One key discovery is that the identified gene accounts for over 20% of the total variation in IPN resistance within salmon families. The effect of the gene within some individual families, however, is much larger. LNS says it has used this information to enhance its long-established selection procedures, enabling the company’s geneticists to identify fish with better levels of resistance to IPN, and other viruses, than ever before.

“This is the first time that genetic markers have been used in marker-assisted selection in a commercial breeding programme for fish,” said Dr Alan Tinch, LNS breeding programme director. “It’s an extremely valuable advance which is already delivering significant welfare improvements and enhanced commercial performance.”

Further research is also being carried out by LNS to identify genes which affect other commercially-important traits and resistance to other diseases.

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