Benchmark seeks more scientists as it pushes ahead with gene editing program
Technique can have ‘breakthrough impacts’ for aquaculture, says innovation director
mSalmon ova supplier Benchmark Genetics plans to take on extra staff to expand its reproductive biotechnology program that links gene editing research with reproductive biology and sterility.
The two positions for scientists, based in Edinburgh or Iceland, are among six new science roles being created by the company, which is part of UK-registered aquaculture biotech firm Benchmark Holdings.
Benchmark Genetics said it planned to build on an excellent track record in reproductive technologies such as cryopreservation and year-round production, to develop and implement scalable methods for sterility and gene editing.
Innovation director Dr Ross Houston said: “We see gene editing technology as having the potential to develop new products which can have breakthrough impacts to improve sustainable aquaculture production, reduce environmental impact, and improve animal health.
Sea lice resistance
“In the coming years, we aim to develop disease-resistant and sterile salmon, including via pertinent applications of emerging technologies such as gene editing. Benchmark is currently involved in collaborative R&D in gene editing, for example, to develop resistance to sea lice in Atlantic salmon. Part of the purpose of these positions is to bring outputs from such projects to market. We will also translate these technologies and methods to shrimp, tilapia, and potentially other species.”
Benchmark is also seeking an extra scientist for its molecular genetics program, which focuses on developing optimised genotyping and genomics solutions for its internal breeding programs, and external genetic services. Located in Edinburgh, the position will include laboratory work and computational analyses.
“The successful candidate will contribute to implementing cost-effective genotyping solutions for genomic selection, parentage assignment, and assessment of genetic diversity. These are important contributions to our R&D projects and to expand our genetic services offering to the aquaculture industry,” said Houston.
Head of salmon breeding
The six new roles that will supplement the existing team of more than 20 geneticists and technical experts also include a head of salmon breeding programs, located in Benchmark Genetics’ headquarters in Bergen, Norway.
“The new senior role offers a unique opening for a motivated candidate to coordinate our three programmes: SalmoBreed, StofnFiskur and SagaChile,” said genetics director Dr Morten Rye.
“The successful candidate will work in close collaboration across the company to ensure optimum dissemination of high-quality salmon eggs to the global markets.”