Genomic tool enables selection for increased growth and SRS-resistance in coho

The first genomic tool for assaying whole-genome variation in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) has been developed. This achievement will be crucial for genetic improvement of production traits such as growth rate and SRS-resistance in this increasingly important aquaculture species.
A significant step for the Chilean salmon aquaculture
The new tool, a so-called SNP-chip, is based on whole-genome sequencing of animals from the coho breeding population of AquaGen Chile, established on the basis of superior strains of domesticated coho acquired by AquaGen Chile between 2013 and 2014.
Fertilized eggs of coho salmon.
By creating a de novo genome reference for the coho salmon, and utilising the recently published genome references for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout, researchers were able to define a set of SNPs (genetic markers) that captures the variation within the coho genome in a more precise manner. The SNP-chip will serve as a tool for future studies of the coho salmon, strengthening the ability of the coho to cope with diseases and other challenges presented by aquaculture, while also increasing general knowledge of the species biology.
The SNP-chip came into being through a collaborative research project with Blue Genomics Chile, FAVET-INBIOGEN University of Chile, AquaGen Chile and Affymetrix (“Implementation of a genetic program to produce coho eggs with an improved resistance to SRS”) and was funded in part by FONDEF-IDEA and CORFO.
Dr. Matias Medina, General Manager of Blue Genomics Chile, said this was a significant step for the Chilean salmon aquaculture. “With the development of this SNP-chip, Blue Genomics is demonstrating the importance of the application of cutting-edge research in the development of a more sustainable aquaculture in Chile. Specifically, by using this new tool, AquaGen Chile will now be able to be more precise in the selection of broodstock with certain characteristics. For instance, existing data and new experiments can now be analysed for the identification of less susceptible fish to SRS and a more precise selection will be possible using either gene markers and/or genomic selection. The application of these two potential strategies set AquaGen in the frontier of existing breeding techniques for coho salmon”, he said.

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