Professor Chris Secombes lead researcher from the University of Aberdeen explained: "We have identified hundreds of genes which are increased or decreased following infection, many of which may be indicators of disease. We have also looked at what other factors impact on these genes, such as nutrition. We are now working to encode this information onto a chip which could help farmers monitor the health and performance of their stocks through methods such as changing their nutritional intake."
So far the scientists have identified the genes and metabolic pathways which influence the most commercially important traits for the production of salmon. These are; the supply of contaminant-free highly unsaturated oils, including omega-3s, for the salmon diet, their long and complex lifecycle, infectious disease, and protein growth efficiency.
Professor Alan Teale, lead researcher at the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and Co-ordinator of TRAITS explained: "What we are working on is precision aquaculture, where we use very sensitive measures ?gene expression ?to pre-empt any adverse production changes in farmed fish populations as well as to maximise their health and wellbeing. This in turn will increase competitiveness and profitability for the salmon farmer.
"We have identified genes involved in polyunsaturated fatty acid metabolism, protein metabolism, bacterial and viral infection, and freshwater to seawater adaptation. The DNA chip will be able to identify changes in the activity of these genes and so alert us to any potential problems. It is too early to tell whether this chip will be a commercial success, but it certainly has the potential to be extremely useful to industry," Professor Teale said.
Professor Julia Goodfellow, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "This is another important step forward in genomics re
Source:Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council