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EU project makes genetic, breeding advances as it comes to conclusion

European aquaculture is being taken to the next level through technological advances in breeding of six species in Europe.

The NOK 75 million (€7.7 million/$8.8 million) EU project Fishboost will conclude at the end of January following five years of research into improving production of Atlantic salmon, common carp, European seabass, gilthead seabream, rainbow trout and turbot.

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The Nofima-led project that includes scientists from 14 research institutions, 11 companies and an NGO have studied a wide range of traits and developed tools and technologies to contribute to more balanced, sustainable and long-term profitable breeding programs.

Fishboost has developed important tools such as gene maps and thousands of genomic markers, which show where on the DNA there is variation between animals. It has also developed ways to reduce the cost of genetic selection with the aim of increasing its use in European breeding programs.

Fishboost has also developed better selection and phenotyping methods to increase production efficiency.

“Much has been done to develop indirect methods for measuring feed utilization and production efficiency on several of the species in Fishboost," said Haavard Bakke, project manager at Salmobreed. "The research done on rainbow trout has a particularly high transfer value to salmon."

Fishboost is one of the last projects granted funding under EU’s seventh framework program. High requirements were set for dissemination of findings and large geographical spread in the project.

The partners in the project have agreed with the EU that only the parties that find a result or innovation own it, but that knowledge about the result must be shared.

“I hope and believe that the industry will make use of this knowledge and that it will contribute to higher quality in existing breeding programs and stimulate the creation of new ones,” said Anna Sonesson, project coordinator for the EU project.

Nofima and other research partners have written new applications to continue their work, and Nofima has already been awarded two new EU projects in this field.

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