A new genomics project in Atlantic Canada is intended to help aquaculture companies in that region compete globally with enhanced breeding programs. The project was one of 12 industry-academic partnerships that received funding through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).
“This is great news for the region,” says Dr. Steve Armstrong, President and CEO of Genome Atlantic, a not-for-profit corporation that helps the region benefit from genomics. “It’s a clear example of how genomics – the powerful combination of biology, genetics and computer science – can provide innovative solutions to some of our most important industry challenges.”
The Salmon and Chips project, a $3.8-million collaboration between Cooke Aquaculture Inc., Kelly Cove Salmon and the University of Guelph, will employ genomics tools known as SNP chips, along with traditional breeding practices, to select for salmon that have better flesh quality and are naturally more resistant to parasites and disease. The project sees Cooke´s Dr. Keng Pee Ang, partnering with Dr. Elizabeth Boulding, Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph.
“The use of these genomics tools will help us more accurately identify those fish that are naturally more robust, meaning we’ll have healthier fish that need less medication,” says Ang. “Our competitors around the world are employing these technologies; it’s critical for our Canadian operations that we do this as well.”
“If we are successful, we will increase survival of eggs and juveniles to adulthood, result in better salt-water performance, and reduce the need for vaccines and medication," Boulding said.