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Cod genes on datachips

NORWAY - Variations in the Atlantic cod's genes determine differences in how it looks, how fast it grows and how resistant it is to diseases. But so far, analyses of variations in the fish's genetic material have been both time-consuming and expensive.

Faster, cheaper and better

The scientists are focusing on being able to reduce the cost to 7,500 NOK using chip technology that analyses up to 10,000 such genetic variations. Today, it costs about 80,000 NOK for such extensive analyses of these variations.

"Together with the technology company mPower, we are going to make a chip that contains all known genetic variations that have been found so far in the cod", says Senior Scientist Madjid Delghandi.

With the help of the new chip and the new analysis methods, it should be possible to analyse approximately 10,000 genetic variations in about one week, while equally extensive traditional tests can take up to six months. In addition, the new tests are more standardised and reliable.

Many areas of application

One area of research that can have great benefit of the results of the new project is the cod breeding programme. With the new test, it will be possible to test DNA from the cod much earlier than is possible now.

"We can then determine more quickly, for example, which cod family is going to grow fastest and is most resistant to diseases, thereby improving the efficiency of the breeding programme", says Delghandi further.

In addition, this chip may be used to both track escaped farmed cod and in the management of the wild fish stocks. The work is financed by Innovation Norway, SkatteFUNN, Fiskeriforskning and mPower, which will assemble the software that is necessary for designing such a chip.

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