Nofima scientist are developing more accurate and efficient selection tools for improving disease resistance in salmon. Photo: Joe Urrutia © Nofima

Project Year 2019

Closer to PD-resistant salmon

 Breeding and genetics  

New insights about fish biology and genetics are bringing Nofima scientists ever closer to salmon with high resistance to PD viral disease.

Pancreas Disease (PD) is caused by what is known as a salmonid alphavirus (SAV). The disease attacks the pancreas and also affects the heart in salmon and causes severe financial losses for the aquaculture industry.

Therefore, over the course of a four-year project called “SalmoResist”, scientists have been working to find the specific genes that produce high tolerance or resistance regarding the viral disease. They are now getting close.

“In the past, our understanding of specific genes and what contributes to resistance has been limited. Now, through several different approaches, we have found out more regarding how fish biology works in relation to disease resistance”, says Nofima senior scientist Nicholas Robinson.

Much greater accuracy

Therefore, salmon with the genetic material that makes them most resistant to disease can be selected.

To identify the particular genes, scientists use gene markers. These markers enable them to select broodstock with the desired characteristics.

“The amount of knowledge we have gained so far has enabled us to have much greater accuracy for increasing PD resistance in salmon”, says Robinson.

Important experience

The scientists have infected salmon families and used markers to find genes associated with resistance and clearance of the virus causing PD.

“We were able to determine the map location of the genes and also measure the amount of gene product produced in fish with high compared with low resistance. Controlled infectious propagation of salmonid diseases in water, and the possibility to conduct disease challenge tests on large families of Atlantic salmon, give us a practical model to use in order to investigate genes that influence resistance to this alphavirus”, says Nicholas Robinson.

He believes that the knowledge generated from salmon research can also provide important experience regarding the treatment or prevention of alphavirus disease in other animal species.

Contact person
Portrettbilde av Nicholas Andrew Robinson
Nicholas Andrew Robinson

Senior Scientist
Tlf: +47 64 97 02 04

SalmoBred, Mowi, Salmar, Roslin Institute, Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), VESO

The Research Council of Norway

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