A member of Xelect staff at the company's St Andrews headquarters. Photo: Xelect.

Trout farmers offered broodstock genetics check

Aquaculture genetics company Xelect has launched a fixed-price genetic broodstock health check for trout.

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The company, which is based in St Andrews, Scotland but has customers across the globe, said the GeneXpertise service offered customers advice on genetic best practice and a detailed report on the genetic health of their population along with guidance on which crosses to avoid and which to make.

Trout are highly fecund, so without genetic management they are extremely susceptible to inbreeding, said Xelect in a press release. A single female can produce thousands of juveniles. This rapidly leads to “inbreeding depression” – a loss of genetic variation, resulting in increased deformity, reduced vigour and poor survival. Once that happens there’s no way back, without purchasing new broodstock animals from a different source.

Xelect said there was a “lingering myth” that genetics was expensive and only the largest producers could benefit. The reality was that breakthroughs in computing power and sequencing methods meant that even small companies could access the tools they needed.

Tom Ashton: GeneXpertise service offers a cost-effective way to boost broodstock.

Selection sustainability

Chief executive Ian Johnston said: “Our experts can help you develop your genetics roadmap and set you on course for the years to come.

“For example, we can check the genetic health and selection suitability of your broodstock population, or we can provide direct recommendations for your next stripping season. After that you’ll be perfectly placed to improve the sustainability and performance of your breeding programme.”

Operations director Tom Ashton said GeneXpertise was a very cost-effective way to give broodstock a boost.

“It’s clearly not a replacement for our full breeding programme services, but it allows many producers access to a highly specialised team of experts at the scale that’s right for them. It’s also really quick – just a few weeks from start to finish.”

Xelect has also developed a free online 2 Minute Broodstock Genetic Health Check to help business owners get a sense of how they are doing, and what they should look out for.