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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Research Project #437429

Research Project: Genetic Improvement of North American Atlantic Salmon and the Eastern Oyster for Aquaculture Production

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Project Number: 8030-31000-005-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Oct 28, 2019
End Date: Oct 27, 2024

Objective 1: Expand and optimize approaches for multi-trait selection in Atlantic salmon. Component 2: Problem Statement 2A Subobjective 1A. Develop a multi-trait selection index in Atlantic salmon germplasm selected for carcass weight, fillet fatty acid levels, and sea lice resistance. Subobjective 1B. Generate a reference genome assembly and genomic research resources for North American Atlantic salmon. Subobjective 1C. Evaluate and validate genome-enabled selection strategies for resistance to sea lice in North American Atlantic salmon. Subobjective 1D. Characterized genetic × environment interactions of Atlantic salmon selected for performance in net pens through evaluations in recirculating aquaculture systems. Objective 2: Advance genetic improvement technologies for the eastern oyster. Component 4: Problem Statement 4A Subobjective 2A. Integrate laboratory disease challenge protocol for measuring Dermo resistance in a family-based breeding program. Subobjective 2B. Discover and validate candidate SNP markers for Dermo resistance from RNA-seq data. Objective 3: Improve Fish Health in Atlantic salmon aquaculture by determining the susceptibility of North American Atlantic salmon selected for performance to new and emerging pathogens and develop strategies to improve fish health. Component 2: Problem Statement 2A Objective 4: Optimize production efficiency in recirculating aquaculture systems. This new objective will focus on developing breeding strategies and management practices that ensure the productivity and profitability of raising fish in recirculating aquaculture systems while maintaining high standards of animal well-being.

U.S. marine aquaculture industries, which consist primarily of molluscan shellfish and Atlantic salmon were valued at $192 million in 2016. Cold water marine aquaculture production has great potential for expansion, and both Atlantic salmon and eastern oysters are widely accepted as seafood by American consumers. Due to increased demand for high quality seafood and advances in genomic and breeding technologies, the East Coast marine aquaculture industry is projected to double in value over the next five years. Commercial salmon and oyster producers predominantly utilize stocks that are not many generations removed from wild, unselected stocks, so there is a need for continuous support to this industry through breeding programs. The NCWMAC is the only Federal research program supporting the U.S. cold water marine aquaculture industry by developing genetically improved salmon which are optimized for aquaculture production efficiency. Aquaculture of the eastern oyster is a large segment of shellfish aquaculture in the US, and minimal selective breeding has been accomplished in this species. In both species, there is a need to improve the performance of existing stocks. This project plan proposes to meet this need through the following objectives: 1) expand and optimize approaches for multi-trait selection in Atlantic salmon and 2) advance genetic improvement technologies for the eastern oyster. Research accomplished during this project will result in the development of genetically improved Atlantic salmon for release to U.S. producers. Experimental protocols and genomic tools developed for the selectively breeding eastern oysters will facilitate and accelerate the development of high-performing, disease resistant oyster lines and will support the East Coast shellfish aquaculture industry.