Xelect Ltd.

Genetic Markers for Broodstock Selection in Aquaculture Fish Species

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Xelect has a growing portfolio of genetic markers for broodstock selection in aquaculture fish species. Our markers allow fish breeders the possibility of selecting among thousands of potential parent fish, and only breeding from those with the optimal traits. Using markers has several key advantages: Traits such as meat quality can be estimated without killing the fish, just by screening a DNA sample. Selective breeding can be applied directly to the trait of interest while maintaining good genetic diversity in the rest of the genome.

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Fillet yield is the percentage of edible fillet on a fish and is closely linked to profitability of aquaculture and fish processing operations. The variation in fillet yield of farmed salmon is substantial (65-73%).

We have drawn upon many years of academic research into the mechanisms of fish muscle development and maintenance, and have successfully identified SNP markers associated with optimal fillet yield.

Our fillet yield markers for Atlantic salmon are currently subject to a European exclusive license deal with a major salmon breeding company. Negotiations are ongoing to license the markers in the rest of the world.

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Gaping
This is the appearance of tears or slits in the fillet. It is unsightly and makes further processing into products such as smoked salmon more difficult and less efficient. Batches with severe gaping are regularly rejected by processors or are downgraded to lower value products, resulting in financial loss. We have developed a method of precisely quantifying the tensile strength of a salmon fillet and therefore its likelihood of gaping. Our method is now being used by a growing number of major companies in the salmon industry.

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Firmness
This is a common variable parameter of fish quality. The processes that drive the variation in firmness are similar to those that alter the tenderness of beef, except that greater softening is desired in beef. We have extensive experience of flesh texture measurements in salmon and other fish, using highly sensitive, industry standard, mechanical texture analysis tools. We provide consultancy for firms wishing to conduct their own texture analysis programmes and we are able to undertake analysis projects for commercial or scientific clients.

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Xelect has used biological knowledge of the formation of muscle and of the post mortem degradation processes, to target genes that are likely to influence gaping and soft flesh. Our most effective gaping marker consists of 2 SNPs and is associated with a 21% increase in tensile strength. Our best firmness marker is associated with a 20% increase in mechanically measured firmness.

Our firmness and gaping markers are currently available for license worldwide. Please contact us to discuss marker evaluation, license options

Lipids (fats) are an important part of the flavour and nutritional content of salmon and contribute considerably to making it a highly desirable product. Xelect is currently developing a database of lipid quality traits such as total fat, oiliness, Omega 3 content and we aim to use targeted gene studies and whole genome screening techniques to discover DNA markers for the optimal combination of lipid characteristics.

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Tilapia are tolerant of variable water quality and are robust against disease. Recent advances in strain selection and production of monosex populations has further increased their popularity as an aquaculture species.

The FAO predicts a continued increase in demand for fillets and processed tilapia products in developed markets such as Europe and the USA.

We are also in the early stages of developing DNA markers for optimal female fecundity, and various other commercially valuable quality traits.

Our R&D programme is dependant on collaborations with producers and breeders and we cordially invite contact from potential industrial partners. In addition to the possibility of developing major new broodstock selection markers we are also able to provide routine scientific services to the industry.

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