Up one level in breeding for six fish species
European fish breeders can now integrate tools and technologies developed in FISHBOOST into their breeding programmes.
The main goal of the EU supported project FISHBOOST is to advance selective breeding to the next level for the six main finfish species in European aquaculture. These species are Atlantic salmon, rainbow trout, gilthead seabream, European seabass, turbot and common carp.
In line with other factors such as improved fish nutrition and health, selective breeding is a way to improve aquaculture production. In European aquaculture, major improvements can be made by establishing new and developing existing selective breeding programmes.
Half way in the Nofima coordinated project, a solid knowledge base has been established and tools and techniques have been developed by the 26 research and industry partners.
Results ready to use
An important goal is to enhance the innate protection against fish diseases in farmed species. Especially for this group of traits, FISHBOOST partners have developed genomics tools and techniques for improving breeding programmes. One example is RAD sequencing technology to genotype cheaply. Another example is methods to reduce genotyping costs for genomic selection, by pooling DNA from individuals with extreme phenotypes in the reference population. These results may lead to wider scale implementation of genomics in aquaculture breeding programmes with the ultimate aim to reduce disease incidences.
For production traits, focus has so far been to develop tools that record production traits indirectly. That is done by recording morphological traits of fish on live fish, for example fillet yield and lipid percentage. This is important to increase genetic gain for these traits in the breeding programmes, and it contributes to improvement of the humane use of animals for research purposes (3R) in the European aquaculture industry.
Software has been developed for fish breeders to manage inbreeding in the selection and mating steps in a breeding programme. Other software selects strains or individual fish in strains to form a base population for breeding.
Bio-economic models have been developed for the FISHBOOST species. These models can be used to calculate economic values for production efficiency traits, in order to select for the most important traits under different production systems. The results can also be used to quantify the effectiveness of breeding in an aquaculture production system.
Today, there are 37 breeding programmes in Europe for the main six finfish species.
The project is supported by the EU 7th Framework Programme. The duration is 2014 to 2019. FISHBOOST has 14 partners in research, technology and development, 11 industry partners, and FEAP.