4 Apr 2014

Genetics expertise being applied to Atlantic salmon

1:40 pm on 4 April 2014

New Zealand genetics expertise, developed to improve sheep breeding, is now being applied to a totally different species - Atlantic salmon.

AgResearch is working with Stofnfiskur HF of Iceland, a leading salmon egg producer.

The Crown research institute is using genomic tools pioneered in sheep to improve the company's salmon breeding systems.

Animal Genomics principal scientist John McEwan said the aim is to develop genotyping methods to improve resistance towards the diseases and parasites that have huge impacts on the salmon industry worldwide.

"What we're talking about is two or three generations further on, the technology being used. "

That's actually genotyping, biosequencing and it's got a lot of potential over a wide range of species in New Zealand, because many of these species are reasonably unique crops or pastures and we need a cheap way of doing that, because we can't rely on other large international companies or countries to do the basic work for us."

He said working with the Icelandic company delivers research benefits for New Zealand, as well.

"The main thing with working with Stofnfiskur ... is that they have a very good recording system and they have very good breeding systems.

"So we are in a position that any developments that we do we can trial and evaluate them in their system very quickly ... in the longer term those systems can be rolled out to other aquacultural or animal or plant species in New Zealand."