The breeding structure of AquaSearch is based on five breeding farms each representing different strains to ensure genetic diversity and maintain a back-up of the genetic material.
Within each farm, different breeding lines with different breeding goals are maintained to ensure customized products:
FRESH: To ensure an efficient production of a portion size trout in freshwater the breeding goal is a fast growing and robust fish with a high feed efficiency.
SALT: The breeding goals of this breeding line is a large rainbow trout of 3-5kg adapted to saltwater conditions with high growth, high feed efficiency a silvery appealing appearance and a well pigmented flesh.
LATE: Breeding is aimed for a large rainbow trout produced in freshwater with a market size of 2.5 kg. The breeding goal is a fast growing rainbow trout adapted to freshwater conditions with a high feed efficiency, originating from 4 or 5 year old maturing brood stock.
To ensure our breeding goals, the following traits are measured in the breeding lines:
In rainbow trout the high reproductive output holds great potential for great genetic progress but potentially also higher rates of inbreeding. To control the rate of inbreeding DNA is used to reconstruct the pedigree. To ensure a long term sustainable breeding plan, optimal contribution selection is applied where genetic gain is maximized while controlling inbreeding (see figure 1).
Innovative DNA methods to overcome todays breeding challenge
DNA technology is a key part of AquaSearchs breeding strategy in todays breeding and as new technolgies are emerging we are investigating their potential in our breeding strategy. One challenge that remains in todays breeding is that the traits of interest are expressed in many different production environments which differ from the breeding environment. Thus, there is a need to enable selection of breeding individuals in the breeding population for their performance in the production environment without affecting the veterinarian status of the breeding farm. To overcome this challenge Aquasearch is investigating the potential of genomic selection. By the use of genomic selection, breeding values are predicted based on a high number of DNA markers resulting in more accurate breeding values. It also involves establishing a reference population in the production environment in which the fish are phenotyped and genotyped. These phenotypes and genotypes are then combined to predict the effects of the genetic markers, and this prediction is used to select the best production animals in the breeding environment based on the genotype alone (see figure 2) with a higher accuracy.