Salmon roe producer AquaGen has said it is developing a hardier lumpfish that’ll eat more salmon lice, a pest that remains the focus of biologists, fish-farmers and the industry worldwide.
Genetic work on the lumpsucker is planned in-line with methods “that have produced great improvements in disease-resistance in salmon”, a company communique said. Namdal Rensefisk, a local Norwegian company, will produce the trial fry.
AquaGen said the lumpfish’s DNA must first be mapped to know what qualities to improve. “Tissue samples from the male and female fish have been collected to put together a reference genome, where genes will be mapped and localized to areas of the genome,” the statement said.
The data will be used to develop a so-called SNP-chip comprised of a large number of DNA markers spread around the lumpfish’s genome. The chip will be “the search engine in the search for genes that have significance for desirable qualities.”
An appetite for salmon lice is quality sought. Resistance to disease is another. To work to find both is a joint research project with CIGENE, Vaxxinova and AquaGen which has been financed by the Norwegian Research Council.
Namdal Rensefisk and AquaGen are already building a hatchery for lumpfish using recirculation technology that’ll pump 1,000 cubic meters of the system’s 4,000 m3 of seawater every hour. Estimated costs for the project top 75 million kroner (USD 9 million), part of a USD24 million total investment in area facilities.