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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Leetown, West Virginia » Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research » Research » Research Project #437699

Research Project: Integrated Research Approaches for Improving Production Efficiency in Rainbow Trout

Location: Cool and Cold Water Aquaculture Research

Project Number: 8082-31000-013-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Dec 14, 2019
End Date: Dec 13, 2024

Objective 1: Improve performance of aquaculture production traits in rainbow trout by developing enhanced selective breeding strategies and genomic technologies: 1a: Selective breeding, evaluation of genomic selection, and development of improved germplasm with superior fillet yield; 1b: Analysis of the genetic architecture and evaluation of the accuracy of genomic selection for resistance to infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus (IHNV) in commercial rainbow trout breeding populations; 1c: Identification of candidate genes for bacterial cold water disease (BCWD) resistance in rainbow trout using pool-seq and improvement of marker-assisted selection for BCWD resistance in multiple rainbow trout breeding populations; 1d: Detection and characterization of genomic signature and selective sweeps associated with phenotypic selection for improved resistance to BCWD in rainbow trout; and 1e: Improvement of the rainbow trout reference genome assembly and analysis of structural variations. Objective 2: Characterization of reproductive and metabolic mechanisms affecting production traits to better define phenotypes and improve selective breeding and management practices: 2a: Characterize attributes of fillet quality and feed utilization efficiency in rainbow trout selectively bred for divergent fillet yield phenotypes; 2b: Utilize gene editing technology to better understand and improve growth performance and nutrient utilization; 2c: Characterization of maternal transcript processing; and 2d: Identification of molecular markers for changes in egg quality in response to hatchery conditions and practices.

Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) are farmed in over half of US states and represent the second most valuable domestic finfish aquaculture product. Although production has increased, the US still imports approximately 50% of the rainbow trout sold for food, so the potential exists to increase domestic production to meet current demand. Increasing production efficiency, product quality, and fish health is central for industry expansion. This project contributes to industry expansion by integrating genomic technologies and enhanced phenotypes with selective breeding strategies that maximize genetic improvements in fillet yield, disease resistance, and reproductive success. Previously, NCCCWA scientists determined that integrating genomic selection with conventional breeding strategies improved genetic gains for resistance to bacterial cold water disease. This project aims to 1) refine genomic selection protocols to support commercial implementation of this breeding technology and 2) develop and evaluate genomic selection tools to (independently) increase fillet yield and improve resistance to infectious hematopoietic necrosis and bacterial cold water disease. Accompanying selective breeding for fillet yield will be an analysis of economically important traits such as growth, feed efficiency, and fillet quality to determine whether selection has indirect effects on performance, nutrient utilization, and product quality. Using gene editing and functional genomics to investigate the physiological mechanisms regulating nutrient metabolism and egg quality will better define these phenotypes, improve understanding of their response to selective breeding, and identify husbandry strategies that optimize performance. Collectively, this project will provide the rainbow trout industry with improved germplasm, genomic selection technologies to accelerate genetic gains, and physiological insights towards improving fish culture.