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Salmon breeding takes a 'quantum leap'

UK - A very important advance in the DNA fingerprinting of salmon has been achieved by Landcatch Natural Selection Ltd. (LNS), working in conjunction with scientists at the world-renowned Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, and at the Institute of Aquaculture, Stirling.

Landcatch Natural Selection
salmon egg
LNS are applying Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) to breeding selections in relation to both growth and disease resistance
Dr Alan Tinch
Dr Tinch - this really is a 'quantum leap' in the breeding of salmon

The development is said to be a 'quantum leap' in salmon breeding that will enable LNS to apply Marker-Assisted Selection to their breeding program, making it even more effective.

LNS, based in Alloa, Scotland, have been applying DNA fingerprinting for over ten years to their breeding program. Now, by combining their extensive performance database with the results of DNA fingerprinting, LNS has been able to apply Quantitative Trait Loci (QTLs) to breeding selections in relation to both growth and disease resistance - including resistance to Infectious Pacreatic Necrosis (IPN).

The advance, unveiled at AquaNor 2007, is the first time any salmon breeding company has been able to use QTLs for growth and resistance to disease for the Marker-Assisted Selection of pedigree broodstock.

"Effectively, this means we can now look directly at the DNA of our broodstock salmon and identify those with the most favourable genes for growth and robustness," said Dr Alan Tinch, LNS breeding programme director. "As a result, we can now identify those individuals from our broodstock families which we know will give our customers the best results.

"In the past, separating the best from the rest, in terms of individual trait selection, was based on performance records. Being able to examine the DNA of our broodstock and know exactly which fish have the best genes for growth and disease resistance, moves our breeding work forward by quite a significant step. Although it's a big statement to make, this really is a 'quantum leap' in the breeding of salmon."

With their own in-house genotyping lab in Alloa, the LNS team are continuing to identify other QTLs for other commercially-important traits.

"We already produce eggs and smolts which are selected according to individual customer requirements across a wide range of traits." said Dr Tinch. "As we identify more QTLs, we will be able to increase our ability to customise eggs and smolts to customers' needs, as well as increasing the rate of genetic improvement. It's a very exciting development."

LNS is already responsible for the production of 110 million salmon eggs from locations in Scotland and Chile and is on target to supply 20% of the world's salmon eggs by 2010.

the Fish Site Editor

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