£1.7m project aims to boost vital aquaculture species

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As part of the AquaLeap study, Stirling experts will focus on the development of resources to enhance the selective breeding of lumpfish.

A major research collaboration – involving scientists at the University of Stirling – is aiming to boost stocks of aquaculture species that are vital to the UK.

The £1.7 million AquaLeap study will bring together academic and industry scientists to focus on the selective breeding of four key species that have substantial economic and environmental importance for the UK: the European lobster, European flat oyster, lumpfish and Atlantic salmon.

The team will use cutting-edge genetic sequencing technologies to identify DNA markers linked to economically important traits, such as disease resistance or growth rate. They will then use this information to help develop and apply new tools to improve breeding programmes.

Dr Andrew Davie, a Senior Lecturer at Stirling’s Institute of Aquaculture, is a Principal Investigator on the project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and Natural Environment Research Council under their UK Aquaculture Initiative, and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.

aqualeap team

The AquaLeap team, including Dr Andrew Davie, pictured far right.

Dr Davie said: “We welcome the launch of this innovative and collaborative project which will see the Institute of Aquaculture work with academic and industry partners to improve selective breeding of stocks vital to the UK aquaculture sector.

“As part of AquaLeap, our work at the Institute of Aquaculture will focus on the development of resources to enhance the selective breeding of lumpfish, which are produced as ‘cleaner fish’ for biological control of sea lice in salmon farming.”

The interdisciplinary consortium is led by the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute in partnership with the Institute of Aquaculture, the Universities of Aberdeen and Exeter, and the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science.

The industry partners involved in the study are: Hendrix Genetics BV, Xelect, The National Lobster Hatchery, Tethys Oysters, Otter Ferry SeaFish, and the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.

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