Genomic leap for coho salmon

A GENOMIC tool that can help improve growth rates and disease resistance in coho salmon has been developed by researchers in Chile.
The new tool, a so-called SNP-chip, is based on whole-genome sequencing of animals from the coho breeding population of AquaGen Chile, established on the basis of superior strains of domesticated coho acquired by AquaGen Chile between 2013 and 2014.
The significant step for the Chilean salmon aquaculture was achieved utilising the recently published genome references for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout.
Researchers were able to define a set of SNPs (genetic markers) that captures the variation within the coho genome in a more precise manner.
The SNP-chip will serve as a tool for future studies of the coho salmon, strengthening the ability of the coho to cope with diseases and other challenges, while also increasing general knowledge of the species biology.
The scientific breakthrough was the result of a collaboration between the University of Chile, AquaGen Chile and other partners.
Dr Matias Medina, general manager of one of the collaborators, Blue Genomics Chile, said: ‘This is a significant step for the Chilean salmon aquaculture.
‘With the development of this SNP-chip, Blue Genomics Chile is demonstrating the importance of the application of cutting edge research in the development of a more sustainable aquaculture in Chile.
‘Specifically, by using this new tool, AquaGen Chile will now be able to be more precise in the selection of broodstock with certain characteristics.
‘For instance, existing data and new experiments can now be analysed for the identification of less susceptible fish to SRS and a more precise selection will be possible using either gene markers and/or genomic selection.
‘The application of these two potential strategies set AquaGen in the frontier of existing breeding techniques for coho salmon.’
Dr Thomas Moen, research director in AquaGen Norway, said: ‘We made good use of our earlier experiences from Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout when we made this SNP-chip.
‘Also, the published reference genome sequence for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout were crucial resources in the process – without those reference genomes we would not have succeeded.
‘SNP-chips have led to entirely new possibilities in selective breeding and also to ground-breaking insights into salmonid biology.’