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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Research Project #418722


Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Project Number: 8030-31000-003-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 2, 2009
End Date: Dec 1, 2014

1: Define phenotypic measures and estimate genetic and phenotypic parameters for commercially important traits such as growth, cold tolerance, fillet color, and fat content in Atlantic salmon. • 1A. Define phenotypic measures and estimate genetic parameters for growth (carcass weight), fillet color, and fillet fat content in Atlantic salmon. • 1B. Define phenotypic measures and estimate genetic parameters for cold tolerance in Atlantic salmon. • 1C. Genetic Variation in oysters for resistance to key diseases will be evaluated. 2: Develop a multi-trait selection index to produce and release Atlantic salmon germplasm selected for multiple traits. • 2A. Incorporate sea lice resistance, growth and color profile into the multi-trait selection index.

The research program supports the coldwater aquaculture industry with a breeding program developing improved lines of North American Atlantic salmon. Atlantic salmon cultured in research objectives in the breeding program is based on life stage and separation of year classes. An incubation system will be used for eggs and newly hatched fry before first feeding, parr tanks are used for first feeding fry to 30-40 g salmon, smolt tanks are for 30-40 g to 100 g pit tagged salmon, on-grow tanks are for 100 g to 1.0 kg salmon in their second year, 3-yr old broodstock tanks are for 1.0 kg to 3.0 kg salmon, and one 4-yr old broodstock tank is for growing salmon to 3.0 kg to 6.0 kg until spawning. Up to 224 families of Atlantic salmon with 300-500 eggs/family will be cultured each year. Approximately 250 eggs will be saved from each family mating and raised through parr size. Typically 30-40 smolts per family will be saved as nucleus of fish for the breeding program and cultured in biosecure tanks will become broodfish. Additional 30-40 smolts per family will be cultured and transferred to an industry collaborator for stocking into net pens for performance evaluations. Net pen fish will be cultured to market size, harvested from sea cages, and transported to a commercial processing plant. Data will be collected for carcass weight, sex, and stage of sexual maturity. Muscle tissue samples will be collected from each fish for fat and pigment analyses. A separate group of fish from each family will be pit tagged as smolts, cultured to 2-year old sub-marketable size and stocked into replicated fish culture tanks equipped filled with filtered, UV-treated seawater in a recirculation biofilter system. The water temperature will be lowered approximately 1C per day using a glycol-based chiller system capable of chilling seawater temperatures down to approximately -2C. Individual fish will be scored on the basis of temperature and time to loss of equilibrium and death and survival. Data will be analyzed to calculate phenotypic and genetic variation for carcass weight, fillet color, fillet fat, and cold tolerance traits. Heritabilities, breeding values, and genetic correlations for carcass weight, fillet fat, fillet color, and temperature tolerance obtained from performance data will be used to develop a selection index or index of merit for each individual broodfish chosen for spawning in a selected line. Selection of 4 year old fish for spawning will occur when fish are moved from 3-yr old broodstock tanks into the 4-yr brood stock system prior to the spawning season. Relative economic weights for each trait will be determined in consultation with industry collaborators and account for the market value of each trait. Germplasm from an Atlantic salmon line selected for multiple traits will be released to commercial producers and consumers.