Aquaculture for all

Triploid mussel initiative ropes in $3.4 million

Genomics Hatcheries Mussels +9 more

Atlantic Aqua Farms, North America’s largest blue mussel grower, will co-lead a $3.4 million research project to develop Canada’s first-ever genomics-based breeding programme for triploid blue mussels.

The funding will support the selective breeding programme which is to be co-led by Dr Tiago Hori, Atlantic AquaFarms (left) and Dr Ramón Filgueira, Dalhousie University (right)

© Genome Atlantic

Atlantic Aqua Farms, which is based on Prince Edward Island, will take part in a breeding programme for triploid bivalves, such as oysters and mussels, as they can offer superior meat quality and faster growth.

The Triploid Mussel Programme, a research and development project managed by Genome Atlantic, is one of eight projects funded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Programme (GAPP).

The development of a breeding programme for triploid mussels is seen as an important milestone for Prince Edward Island’s blue mussel industry, which is worth more than $60 million annually and the source of half of the mussels consumed in North America.

Dr Tiago Hori, Atlantic Aqua Farm’s director of innovation and principal co-investigator for the project, explained in a press release: “Atlantic Aqua Farms is committed to contributing to the growth of the shellfish industry in a sustainable and climate-friendly way using innovation. Triploid mussels will help Atlantic Aqua Farms boost its mussel production by increasing per-acre grow-out efficiency, which will lead to expansion with a limited increase in carbon footprint.”

Currently, Atlantic Aqua Farms has more than 4,500 acres of water leases.

“Genomics is what makes the prospect of boosting mussel production without expanding the water lease footprint realistic, and it’s another example of how important this area of science is to the future growth and sustainability of resource-based industries like aquaculture in Atlantic Canada,” said Dr Steve Armstrong, president and CEO of Genome Atlantic.

Climate-resilient triploids?

Dr Ramón Filgueira, a Dalhousie University expert in sustainable management of coastal aquaculture sites and the project’s second principal co-investigator, explains that another key component of the triploid breeding programme will be to develop more climate-resilient mussels. “Triploids are known to struggle with heat stress and this tendency is potentially problematic in some areas of Prince Edward Island where water temperatures are already on the high side for mussel cultivation and the warming trend is expected to continue with climate change. We believe that this issue can be mitigated using genomics to inform selective breeding in the triploid mussel seed.”

As part of its 10-year plan to develop production of hatchery-grown mussel seed in Prince Edward Island. Atlantic Aqua Farms is looking at developing a breeding programme that will integrate genetic markers for temperature robustness in both triploids and diploids.

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