The University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute has made a significant research agreement with Hendrix Genetics organisation with the goal of making livestock and fish farming more sustainable.
Working alongside Hendrix Genetics, a leading animal research company, the Roslin Institute will lead efforts to increase disease resistance and improve selective breeding programmes in farm animals on land and sea.
This latest research agreement is an extension of an existing project on sustainable fish farming with Landcatch, a Scotland-based branch of Hendrix Genetics which focuses on aquaculture, and other researchers at the universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Stirling.
The existing collaboration, which focused on methods to boost Atlantic salmon farm stocks, produced major results in 2014 when a chip was developed to gather and identify useful selective breeding data.
The 2016 agreement hopes to bring about further successes in both fish farming and onshore livestock, both of which are important to the Scottish economy.
Reacting to the research agreement, Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Deputy Director at the Roslin Institute, said in a press release: “We are excited about building on our long-term relationship with Landcatch through establishing this strategic partnership.
Speaking to The Student, Professor Whitelaw said: “Working with Hendrix Genetics across a number of commercial species offers exciting opportunities for the science that Roslin pioneers.”
Professor Whitelaw, who is also the Roslin Institute’s Head of Developmental Biology, referred to past successes that have resulted from the Landcatch partnership: “This collaboration centres around Dr Ross Houston at the Roslin Institute.
“Ross has worked with Landcatch Natural Selection for a number of years to advance both understanding and implementation of genetic selection strategies for infectious pancreatic necrosis virus resistance in salmon.”
He expressed optimism at the upcoming extended Hendrix Genetics partnership: “Our goal is to use our expertise in genetics and genome technologies in the ‘aquabreeding’ industries.
“Going forward we will continue to develop this goal with Hendrix through the use of new breeding technologies to address in the first instance a number of fish diseases.”
Dr Ross Houston, who leads the Roslin Institute’s aquaculture genetics efforts, told The Student: “The longer term goals of the partnership are to improve resistance to infectious diseases in farmed animals by using selective breeding approaches.
“For example, Roslin and Hendrix have worked together on projects that have enabled accurate selection for salmon with higher resistance to sea lice, which is the major problem for salmon production.”
He looked forward to further developments, saying: “The new project will extend this partnership, by using the latest genomic technologies and access to data from large farmed animal populations to improve selection breeding for disease resistance. The aim is to expand into other aquaculture and livestock species.”
Dr Johan van Arendonk, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at Hendrix Genetics, said in a press release: “This partnership with Roslin – a world leading research institute – offers a unique opportunity to improve our breeding programs through applied research projects using the latest genomic technology.”
Image: HDR Inc.