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Medical technology takes salmon selection to a new level

SalmoBreed has announced plans to use state-of-the-art medical technology to enhance data collection from its broodstock families - in a project that should benefit the global salmon industry.

Each year SalmoBreed arranges a test slaughter on half and full-siblings of the next generation of broodstock in our breeding programme. This gives access to important information that is used to rank individual broodfish according to their expected performance on various slaughter and quality traits. In traditional test slaughters, SalmoBreed manually dissects, weighs, scores, records and samples thousands of fish.

However, they have plans to raise their game at this year’s test slaughter, which will take place from 11-15 February at a Bremnes Seashore site in Bømlo.

-The test slaughter of 2019 is special as it’s the first time we’ll be obtaining phenotypes from a mobile medical computed tomography (CT) scanner at this scale, explains Borghild Hillestad, Genetics and Genomics Manager at SalmoBreed, who is responsible for the project.

The CT technology was previously only tested in a pilot project in 2018 through CompleteSCAN, an FHF-funded project. This year the CT scanner will replace traditional manual dissection and is expected to increase accuracy in data collection.

-Being able to objectively determine relevant breeding parameters such as fillet yield is extremely important when selecting for the right breeding candidates, says Hillestad . - We are very pleased that Bremnes Seashore is welcoming us to their facility and we look forward to collecting data of our phenotypes for year-class 2017 using a CT scanner.

In addition to broodstock from SalmoBreed, we are conducting similar tests on fish from our sister company StofnFiskur and our partner SalMar who hold the Rauma strain. A total of 10,000 fish from the three strains were PIT-tagged and put to sea in the autumn of 2017 at the Institute of Marine Research (IMR) facility in Austevoll municipality. Growth, mortality, sea-lice attachments and various health parameters have been previously recorded, and tissue samples for DNA analysis has been collected.

-To IMR, it’s important to be involved in the work done by SalmoBreed and other commercial companies in the Norwegian aquaculture industry, states Stig Ove Utskot, IMR’s project leader for the SalmoBreed test slaughter group. – The collaboration helps us to develop our aquaculture research and creates an understanding of various challenges that occur in the industry, he concludes.

The fish that originate from StofnFiskur have half- and full-sibs in its nucleus located in their full cycle land-based facilities in Iceland. Sibs from the same fish families are also currently reared in Denmark and Chile. The test slaughter gives the opportunity to reconfirm the high genetic correlation between growth measured on land in StofnFiskur’s breeding nucleus and seawater growth in Norway.

About CT scanning

CT scanning is a non-destructive method originally designed to measure the composition of human tissues. By using this technology on salmon, it is possible to estimate yield using 3D image analysis of the x-ray absorption properties. Since different tissues have different absorption properties, the tissue distribution can be extracted using image analysis software. This approach can significantly reduce the cost of labour and materials for the test slaughter and remove the operator dependence when performing manual filleting. Virtual cleaning of the fish is done by locating the different organs and removing them using advanced image analysis.

Ct Teknologien

The CT technology was previously only tested in a pilot project in 2018 through CompleteSCAN, an FHF-funded project. This year the CT scanner will replace traditional manual dissection and is expected to increase accuracy in data collection. Photo Benchmark Genetics

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