Genome Canada Funds Local Aquaculture Projects

Two regional projects will help aquaculture companies compete globally with enhanced breeding programs and improved feed formulas. The projects were among 12 industry-academic partnerships that received funding through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP), announced by The Honourable Ed Holder, Minister of State (Science and Technology) today in Guelph, Ontario. “This is great news for the region,” says Dr. Steve Armstrong, President and CEO of Genome Atlantic, a not-for-profit corporation that helps the region benefit from genomics. “It’s a clear example of how genomics – the powerful combination of biology, genetics and computer science – can provide innovative solutions to some of our most important industry challenges.” The Salmon and Chips project, a $3.8-million collaboration between Cooke Aquaculture Inc., Kelly Cove Salmon and the University of Guelph, will employ genomics tools known as SNP chips, along with traditional breeding practises to allow the company to select for salmon that have better flesh quality and are naturally more resistant to parasites and disease. The project sees Cooke´s Dr. Keng Pee Ang, partnering with Dr. Elizabeth Boulding, Professor in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of Guelph. Dr Keng Pee Ang“The use of these genomics tools will help us more accurately identify those fish that are naturally more robust, meaning we’ll have healthier fish that need less medication,” says Ang. “Our competitors around the world are employing these technologies; it’s critical for our Canadian operations that we do this as well.” The Biomarker Platform for Commercial Aquaculture Feed Development project is a $3.8-million partnership co-led by Dr. Richard Taylor, senior research scientist at EWOS Innovation, the R&D arm of EWOS, the world-leading fish feed producer, and Dr. Matthew Rise, Associate Professor and Tier 2 Canada Research Chair in Marine Biotechnology in the Department of Ocean Sciences at Memorial University. The team will use genomics technologies to assess the effects of various diets on fish health at the molecular level. The highly-detailed information will help EWOS Innovation fine-tune feed formulas that include non-marine products such as land-based plants to maximize fish performance and to develop clinical feeds that will combat disease. “Fish producers are providing an important source of sustainable protein,” says Taylor. “This project will lead to better feeds that will help fish grow faster and with better health, which will improve the bottom line for producers immediately.” Genome Canada’s GAPP competition is designed to encourage industry-academic collaborations to increase innovation and competitiveness through genomics. Funding is matched by the industry partners and others on a 1:2 ratio. Genome Canada contributed $1,265,930 to the Salmon and Chips project, matched by Cooke Aquaculture Inc and Kelly Cove Salmon at $2,259,546, and by the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program in the amount of up to $272,263. Genome Canada contributed $1,093,988 to the EWOS Innovation project, which was matched by the company in the amount of $2,710,468.