In Scotland, researchers at WorldFish will embark on new research to create more resilient fish with characteristics such as disease resistance and more effective feed utilization, using advanced techniques such as genomic selection to introduce these characteristics into its improved tilapia strains.
Use of genomic selection tools, which enable the selection of animals based on genetic markers, will allow WorldFish to expand its Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia research beyond a growth-only focus and introduce selection for characteristics that are otherwise difficult to measure, such as resilience and feed efficiency. Genomic selection has enabled a step change in the rate of genetic improvement of terrestrial livestock, and has the potential to do the same in fish.
Since 1988, WorldFish has used selective breeding to develop and manage the fast-growing GIFT strain. The strain has been disseminated to at least 16 countries, mostly in the developing world, and is grown by millions of small-scale fish farmers for food, income and nutrition across the globe. Expansion of GIFT research is a key part of the CGIAR Research Program on fish (FISH) and supports WorldFish efforts under its sustainable aquaculture program to increase the productivity of small-scale aquaculture to meet growing global demand for fish
Ross Houston, Group Leader, The Roslin Institute: “Aquaculture production needs to increase by 40 percent by 2030 to meet global demands for fish. Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is arguably the world’s most important food fish, and plays a key role in tackling rural poverty in developing countries. The innovations in genetic improvement mapped out in this workshop are an important step toward achieving these ambitious goals.”