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Hooman Moghadam: Identified genetic markers significantly associated with higher resistance against the PD virus. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen © Nofima
Hooman Moghadam: Identified genetic markers significantly associated with higher resistance against the PD virus. Photo: Jon-Are Berg-Jacobsen © Nofima

Norwegian research institute Nofima reports that the combination of three genetic markers on three chromosomes can be the key to high survival after viral infection in salmon.

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In a trial where fish were infected with salmon pancreas disease (PD) virus, no mortality was observed in one particular group of fish. These fish were carrying a combination of three different genetic markers on three different chromosomes.

The finding comes from the breeding nucleus of SalmoBreed and is part of the “SalmoResist” research project, led by Nofima and financed by the research Council of Norway. A main aim of the project is to identify association between higher resistance against certain viral diseases, including PD, with the genetic content of the fish.

Traits of interest

SalmoBreed and Nofima identified genetic markers that are linked to higher resistance against PD.

Hooman Moghadam, project leader from Nofima, said: "When we identify genetic markers that explain traits of interest in the fish, we can more accurately select the individuals that are going to be used in breeding programs. In this study, we identified genetic markers, located on three different chromosomes, to be significantly associated with higher resistance against the PD virus."

The researchers did not find any mortality among the fish that carry a combination of “good” genetic markers from those three chromosomes.

"This finding will help the scientists to identify the very genes that underlie higher tolerance or resistance against this viral disease," said Moghadam.

Stronger capacity to breed for resistance

Borghild Hillestad, genetics manager of SalmoBreed, said: "By acquiring a deeper understanding of the genes that control resistance to PD, we have a much stronger capacity to breed effectively for resistance to the disease. Genomic selection and PD seemed to be a good match, and SalmoResist confirmed that."

Egg supplier SalmoBreed is owned by UK-based aquaculture health, nutrition, and genetics company Benchmark, which this week announced revenues of £138 million for the year ending September 30.

Benchmark's genetics division reported strong sales growth with a 49 per cent increase (up 23 per cent on a constant currency basis), driven by increasing demand for salmon products with sales in salmon eggs up on the previous year in every major market.

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