Control of Infectious Diseases
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Oyster farming to benefit from new genetic screening tool

Oyster farmers are set to benefit from a new genetic tool that will help to prevent disease outbreaks and improve yields.

Oyster breeding
Oyster breeding

The technology will enable hatcheries to rapidly assess the genetic make-up of their oysters, so they can select oysters with desirable characteristics from which to breed.

Researchers at The Roslin Institute, in collaboration with researchers at the Centre for Environment Fisheries and Aquaculture Science and Edinburgh Genomics, have developed a chip loaded with tens of thousands of pieces of DNA – each carrying a specific fragment of the oyster’s genetic code. Using a tiny sample of DNA from each oyster, the chip can measure small genetic variations. 

This variation will initially be used to spot oysters that are resistant to Oyster Herpes Virus, a disease that causes major losses in young stocks.

“Oysters are one of the most important group of species for global aquaculture with more than 600,000 tonnes produced each year. This chip is an enabling tool for genetics and breeding research in oysters, and we are working with the industry to implement this technology with the goal of improving health and yield of stocks.”

Dr. Ross Houston, Senior Research Fellow, The Roslin Institute

Development of a similar tool for Atlantic Salmon allowed us to understand the basis of resistance to a major viral disease, and breed selectively for resistance to the benefit of the aquaculture sector.

Original publication

A.P. Gutierrez, F. Turner, K. Gharbi, R. Talbot, N.R. Lowe, C. Peñaloza, M. McCullough, P.A. Prodöhl, T.P. Bean, R.D. Houston (2017) Development of a Medium Density Combined-Species SNP Array for Pacific and European Oysters (Crassostrea gigas and Ostrea edulis).

G3: Genes, Genomes, Genetics. DOI:

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