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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Orono, Maine » National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center » Research » Research Project #441840

Research Project: Establishment and Operation of the Regional Northeast Oyster Breeding Center (NOBC)

Location: National Cold Water Marine Aquaculture Center

Project Number: 8030-31000-005-037-N
Project Type: Non-Funded Cooperative Agreement

Start Date: Aug 1, 2022
End Date: Jul 31, 2027

To establish and operate the regional Northeast Oyster Breeding Center ("NOBC" or “Center”). The NOBC is for the purpose of developing improved Eastern oyster, Crassostrea virginica, germplasm through state-of-the-art breeding technologies applied for the first time to the eastern oyster.

Shellfish hatchery facilities at the NOAA NEFSC in Milford, CT will be renovated and equipment obtained and installed to allow conditioning, spawning, larval rearing, and nursery growth of Eastern oyster seed for the physical creation of the NOBC. A breeding program informed by oyster pedigree, performance, genetic, and genomic data will be established by USDA ARS geneticists to create genetically improved oyster lines for industry. Cooperation between the USDA ARS breeding program and the NOAA NEFSC hatchery will make the NOBC operational. Progeny tests of oyster seed produced by the NOBC will be run by USDA ARS at multiple field sites to collect performance (phenotype) data. In addition, tissue samples from parents and progeny will be sampled to collect genomic data. Quantitative genetic analysis of phenotype/genomic data of reared progeny and their progenitors will occur each generation to assess genetic gains for traits of interest and select superior broodstock for use in subsequent iterations of the breeding cycle. Selected broodstock will be delivered to the NOAA NEFSC hatchery for conditioning and spawning and resultant seed will be transferred back to USDA ARS for progeny tests and tissue sampling/genotyping on an established, regular schedule. Ultimately, superior Eastern oyster broodstock will be provided to private shellfish hatcheries for commercial scale propagation.