At a fish farming conference in Aviemore Scotland last spring the Scottish salmon breeding company Landcatch announced that it continues to make headway in the ongoing battle against sea lice – selecting eggs with improved resistance to the pesky parasite.
Landcatch and its scientific partners have applied the genomic selection technique – a way of screening the DNA of individual fish – to identify the fish and thus the eggs that are most resistant to sea lice infection. It is anticipated that “several million” of the selected eggs will be commercially available by December.
The company, which is headquartered in Ormsary, Argyll, and has a genetics team based in Stirling, also in Scotland, has been working in the development of genetic and genomic selection tools for improving farmed salmon for many years.
Company genetics director Dr Alan Tinch said at the conference that the industry may never manage to get to the point that farmed salmon are totally resistant to sea lice, but he termed the development “a major advance in tackling the issue.”
Tinch confirmed that Landcatch scientists have demonstrated that sea lice resistance is inherited and can be predicted using DNA markers.
“We now have a high resolution digital quality image of the genetic value of each of our broodstock and predict with high accuracy which males and females are the most resistant to sea lice,” Tinch said.
Landcatch is the company that pinpointed a QTL, a major gene, controlling the resistance of salmon to often-fatal Infectious Pancreatic Necrosis (IPN).
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