Sci­en­tists make Leap in ge­net­ics re­search

Fish Farmer - - News United Kingdom -

A NEW re­search col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween aca­demic and in­dus­try sci­en­tists aims to boost the se­lec­tive breed­ing of stocks of vi­tal UK aqua­cul­ture species.

The £1.7 mil­lion AquaLeap ini­tia­tive will fo­cus on four key species that have sub­stan­tial eco­nomic and en­vi­ron­men­tal im­por­tance for the UK: At­lantic salmon, lump­fish, Eu­ro­pean lob­ster, and Eu­ro­pean flat oys­ter.

Re­searchers will work with in­dus­try part­ners to iden­tify sus­tain­able so­lu­tions to cur­rent chal­lenges fac­ing aqua­cul­ture pro­duc­tion, in­clud­ing sig­nif­i­cant dis­eases.

The in­ter­dis­ci­pli­nary con­sor­tium is led by the Roslin In­sti­tute in part­ner­ship with the Uni­ver­si­ties of Aberdeen, Ex­eter and Stir­ling, and the Cen­tre for En­vi­ron­ment, Fish­eries and Aqua­cul­ture Sci­ence (Ce­fas).

The com­mer­cial part­ners are Hen­drix Ge­net­ics, Xelect, the Na­tional Lob­ster Hatch­ery, Tethys Oys­ters, and Ot­ter Ferry SeaFish.

Teams will use cut­ting edge ge­netic se­quenc­ing tech­nolo­gies to iden­tify DNA mark­ers that are linked to eco­nom­i­cally im­por­tant traits, such as dis­ease re­sis­tance or growth rate. This in­for­ma­tion will help de­velop and ap­ply new tools to im­prove breed­ing pro­grammes for these valu­able species.

Ex­perts will also de­velop gene edit­ing tech­niques to un­der­stand genes con­trol­ling re­sis­tance to dis­eases, and ex­plore pos­si­bil­i­ties of us­ing this tech­nol­ogy to speed up stock im­prove­ment.

The sci­en­tific pro­gramme is com­ple­mented by a se­ries of train­ing, dis­sem­i­na­tion and pub­lic en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, in­clud­ing ad­dress­ing skills gaps iden­ti­fied by the ARCH-UK net­work, pi­o­neered by Stir­ling Univer­sity’s In­sti­tute of Aqua­cul­ture.

The Roslin In­sti­tute will host a one-day con­fer­ence on May 20, fo­cused on the ap­pli­ca­tion of ge­netic tech­nolo­gies for im­prove­ment of fin­fish and shell­fish.

AquaLeap is funded by the UK gov­ern­ment’s Biotech­nol­ogy and Bi­o­log­i­cal Sci­ences Re­search Coun­cil and the Nat­u­ral En­vi­ron­ment Re­search Coun­cil and the Scot­tish Aqua­cul­ture In­no­va­tion Cen­tre (SAIC).

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