In order to accurately select the right animal as a breeding parent, geneticists need to track key characteristics, including body weight and morphometrics (size and shape). However, in aquaculture, data collection on individual animals offers significant challenges. Conventional methods, such as weighing scales, are labour intensive and can compromise animal welfare. Underwater vision technology offers a solution to accurately and efficiently identify, measure, and select breeding stock.
Plant & Food Research has developed new image-based processes to measure a range of traits in fish automatically. The high throughput system uses species-specific distinguishing features, such as visual patterning akin to a fingerprint, to identify individuals and track their growth over time. This information can be used to identify individuals with the right characteristics to offer potential as parents in aquaculture breeding programs.
The development project will assess the viability of this technology in a commercial environment by performing a number of test cases in trout.
Dr Robbert Blonk, R&D director aquaculture of Hendrix Genetics states: “Accurate data collection and tracking individuals in aquaculture is key. We look forward to working with Plant & Food Research to implement their state-of-the-art technology to further advance our breeding programs.”
Dr Maren Wellenreuther, science group leader seafood production for Plant & Food Research added, “Underwater vision technology has the potential for a huge leap in breeding accuracy and further genetic improvement. We look forward to continuing the development of this technology and see it adopted by industry partners like Hendrix Genetics.”
With the combined expertise in breeding, genetics, and technology, the partners will further develop the techniques that have the potential to improve frequency and accuracy in trait measurements in way with enhanced animal welfare outcomes. This project will increase accuracy of selection in breeding, which translates to healthy, efficient products for the entire aquaculture industry.