“We’ve long believed that the latest technologies should be for the many, not the few. There’s a lingering myth in aquaculture that genetics is expensive, and that only the largest producers can benefit. The reality is that – due to breakthroughs in computing power and sequencing methods – even small companies should now be able to access the tools they need,” say the Scottish company in a press release.
Called GeneXpertise, its users are being offered advice on genetic best practice, a detailed report on the genetic health of their population along with guidance on which crosses to avoid and which to make – all for “a modest, fixed price”.
Trout are highly fecund, so without genetic management they are extremely susceptible to inbreeding. A single female can produce thousands of juveniles. This rapidly leads to inbreeding depression – a loss of genetic variation, resulting in increased deformity, reduced vigour and poor survival. Once that happens there’s no way back without purchasing new broodstock animals from a different source, the company warns.
“Xelect’s experts can help you develop your genetics roadmap and set you on course for the years to come. For example, we can check the genetic health and selection suitability of your broodstock population, or we can provide direct recommendations for your next stripping season. After that you'll be perfectly placed to improve the sustainability and performance of your breeding programme,” says Prof Ian Johnston, CEO of the St Andrews-based firm.
“GeneXpertise is a very cost-effective way to give your broodstock a boost. It’s clearly not a replacement for our full breeding programme services, but it allows many producers access to a highly specialised team of experts at the scale that’s right for them. It’s also really quick – just a few weeks from start to finish,” adds Xelect director of operations, Dr Tom Ashton.
The company has also developed a free, online, 2-minute broodstock genetic health check to help business owners get a sense of how they are doing, and what they should look out for.