Aquaculture presents both a challenge and an opportunity to the science of agrigenomics. Unlike many other fields, aquaculture uses a large variety of species, most of which have never been formally domesticated or cultivated on a large scale for more than a few decades, or ever. The reproductive biology of aquatic creatures often features broadcast spawning, huge mating aggregations, juveniles without distinguishing anatomy, and/or communal nesting, making it difficult to ascertain parentage and thus selectively breed with any confidence. Meanwhile, the short history of cultivation means that genomic data is often lacking, requiring science-minded aquaculturists to seek it out themselves. Especially as wild fish stocks continue to suffer due to climate change and overfishing, and the world’s appetite for seafood remains high, farmed fish will become an ever-greater part of global diets. This is where the Axiom genotyping solution comes in, and where Dr. Victor Martinez’s research shows its value.
Dr. Victor Martinez, from the University of Chile, works for INBIOGEN, an agrigenomics firm invested in improving Chilean aquaculture. Owing to its long coastline and access to diverse ocean conditions, Chile is an aquaculture powerhouse that seeks to both diversify and refine its aquaculture practices to reduce dependence on existing species, such as the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). The Axiom array has proven instrumental to identifying ways to improve Chilean salmon stock, in particular looking for ways to breed salmon that resist Pisciricketsia salmonis, a deadly bacterial disease that affects salmon farms around the world. Axiom genotyping arrays help to identify genotypes that can resist disease, and also to track the parentage of individual fish so that the highest-quality individuals can be designated as brood stock for future generations, a standard farming practice that is a challenge to implement in aquaculture settings. Because of the limited genotype information available for fish diseases and, secondarily, for the fish themselves, efforts such as Dr. Martinez’s have proven exceedingly valuable for growing the knowledge base for future research, in addition to immediate practical applications.
One of the new species being brought into the Chilean trade is Seriola lalandi, variously known as the yellowtail amberjack or yellowtail kingfish, a large, predatory fish with high value in export markets. Dr. Martinez’s work aims to demystify its genetics for the benefit of current and future fish farmers. Unfortunately, S. lalandi is vulnerable to fish lice and other diseases, especially in the confines of aquaculture enclosures. The Axiom Seriola lalandi array has been Dr. Martinez’s most effective tool for checking for disease resistance in farmed individuals, helping the Chilean aquaculture industry refine its farmed stock and avoid the disease vulnerabilities that come with the inbreeding of captive fish. This is especially true for fish louse resistance, which is a polygenic trait requiring advanced techniques to fully understand. Axiom microarrays enable the examination of numerous traits at once, helping scientists like Dr. Martinez identify which traits future breeders should watch. Axiom arrays are particularly easy to use, according to Dr. Martinez, and certainly more so than most other sequencing tools. The flexibility of the Axiom array has allowed Dr. Martinez’s team and others to reduce the size of the arrays they routinely use, as it becomes clearer and clearer which traits are relevant, reducing costs over time.
Dr. Martinez has collaborated with Thermo Fisher Scientific for many years and particularly appreciates the strict policy on important information, protecting it from leaks and losses. With Thermo Fisher Scientific’s aid, IBIOGEN has developed a SNP-chip for Seriola lalandi, which will further accelerate the progress of genomic research into this fascinating and valuable creature. Intensive genomics work is the future of aquaculture, and Thermo Fisher Scientific aims to continue to be a valued part of this process.
For more information on the Axiom genotyping solution, see this page. To contact our agrigenomics department, use this form. For Victor Martinez’s full presentation on his genetic research into yellowtail kingfish (Seriola lalandi), watch this video.
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