Lumpfish genome breakthrough
Mapping the entire DNA sequence of lumpfish is a breakthrough. This allows study, with much greater precision than before, all the genes that contribute to traits such as: Growth, Disease Resistance and Sea Lice Appetite.
Tim Martin Knutsen is a senior scientist at AquaGen. He states that “Sequencing of the lumpfish genome can have benefits. There is great gain for both the industry and research institutions for various research purposes. He has been working on the gene sequence in close collaboration with Tina Graceline and Matthew Kent from CIGENE (NMBU). The genome is open for free use and can be downloaded via the figshare publishing tool (DOI: 10.6084 / m9.figshare.7301546).
Findings in genes for gender determination
An important milestone in the breeding programme and egg production is in finding genes for gender determination. This can help us look at gender differences in growth and lice grazing, something we know very little about today. We can also select female fish for early breeding, and reduce the use of male fish that do not contribute positively to breeding programmes or egg production, says senior scientist at AquaGen, Maren Mommens.
The raising of broodstock will be at Namdal Rensefisk, which now, in collaboration with AquaGen, completes a state-of-the-art breeding plant for lumpfish of NOK 80 million in Flatanger, Norway.
Development of genomic search tools
AquaGen has also developed a search tool consisting of 70,000 gene markers used to detect differences in DNA encoding important traits. This marker set has a high resolution and is the first to be designed for lumpfish. Together with the genome sequence and information about where the different genes are placed in the genome, the marker set enables us to look for important genes with high precision, says Knutsen.
Investigation of disease resistance and lice grazing ability
During winter 2018 we will start a challenge test with the bacterial diseases atypical furunculosis and vibriosis, where we will investigate whether there are genetic differences between individual lumpfish in the resistance to these diseases. We have also studied lumpfish that are kept together with salmon in AquaGen’s own seawater facilities. We are counting how many lice each of the lumpfish have eaten while taking a tissue sample for DNA analysis. In this way we can find out if lumpfish with high lice appetite have special genetic variants we can breed for, says Mommens.
Mapping of the lumpfish’s genome is part of the research project Â«New species, new properties, new possibilities which will run in the period 2017-2019. The project is funded by NMBU, Vaxxinova, AquaGen and the Research Council of Norway.