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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Research Project #437772

Research Project: Screening Eastern Oyster Populations for Optimal Aquaculture Performance

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Project Number: 8030-31000-005-14-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Sep 1, 2020
End Date: Aug 31, 2023

Objective:
To identify oyster stocks with the best potential for the development of selected lines with improved performance for the Northeast region.

Approach:
Multiple studies have shown that the performance rankings of eastern oyster lines developed for aquaculture are inconsistent across diverse growing environments. A first step toward the development of high-performing oyster lines for Northeast oyster aquaculture is to evaluate and compare growth, survival, and disease acquisition among multiple source stocks (both wild and hatchery-derived) across representative grow-out conditions. We will produce oyster seed from distinct wild and hatchery-derived stocks under identical hatchery/nursery conditions in replicated, closed, downweller and then upweller systems. When oysters reach approximately 8mm, seed from each stock will be deployed in triplicate bags at field sites that reflect environmental variation across the region and monitored for growth and survival regularly over two growing seasons. Dermo disease prevalence and intensity will be quantified for each stock in the late fall of each season. Performance (growth, survival, and disease acquisition) of all stocks will be quantified within and across field sites to identify the stocks with the greatest production potential for the Northeast aquaculture industry. These stocks can serve as founders for a regional selective breeding program.