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Nofima Identifies Genetic Markers for PD Resistance

19 January 2016

NORWAY - In cooperation with R&D partners, Nofima has identified and validated genetic markers for resistance to Pancreas Disease (PD) in Atlantic salmon.

The genetic markers they were looking for are linked to functional genes that determine how likely the salmon is to die after infection with PD. PD is one of the most widespread diseases among Norwegian farmed salmon.

The markers Nofima found through this project are an interesting example of how international research and collaboration can strengthen research findings and validate these markers an effective tool to breed for increased PD resistance.

While Norwegian researchers had found the markers for PD in post-smolt from SalmoBreed’s population, researcher Matthew Baranski at Nofima became aware that the Roslin Institute in Scotland was carrying out a similar study on fry for Marine Harvest. Both research institutes were given permission by their industrial partners to collaborate on the publication of their findings.

In both studies, genetic markers linked to PD resistance were found on the same chromosome and in the same area. This represents a strong validation of these results, something of great importance for both practical application and publishing.

“It’s also interesting that we have shown that it probably is the same genes that affect mortality in both fry and post-smolt,” Baranski says.

The methodologies for performing disease challenge tests were also different, and proves that there are several routes to reliable research results.

SalmoBreed are now using these markers to counter PD through marker-assisted and genomic selection. This method provides significantly higher breeding accuracy for this trait than traditional breeding alone.

Nofima is continuing work with both SalmoBreed’s and Marine Harvest on this important topic:

“We have collected a lot of data in several projects, and will use the material to identify the gene or genes behind PD. We want to find out whether these genes are involved in the immune system and perhaps have an influence on other diseases. This could provide knowledge that makes it possible to breed more efficiently for health overall,” Baranski concludes.

Nofima’s part of the project is financed by SalmoBreed AS. Partners are SalmoBreed AS, The Roslin Institute (UK), Akvaforsk Genetics Center AS, Marine Harvest and Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE).

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