PEI’s Atlantic Aqua Farms receives $3.4M for triploid mussels breeding program
December 13, 2023
By Aquaculture North America staff
Prince Edward Island-based Atlantic Aqua Farms has been awarded C$3.4 million (US$2.5 million) in research funding to develop Canada’s first-ever genomics selective breeding program for triploid mussels.
Triploid bivalves such as oysters and mussels offer superior meat quality, grow faster and are better at surviving storms. The development of a breeding program for triploid mussels is an important milestone for Prince Edward Island’s blue mussel industry which is worth more than C$60 million (US$44.3 million) annually and the source of half of the mussels consumed in North America.
The Triploid Mussel Program, a research and development project managed by Genome Atlantic, is one of 13 projects funded through Genome Canada’s Genomic Applications Partnership Program (GAPP).
Tiago Hori, Atlantic Aqua Farm’s director of innovation and principal co-investigator for the project, said Atlantic Aqua Farms commits to contributing to the growth of the shellfish industry in a sustainable and climate-friendly way.
“Triploid mussels will help Atlantic Aqua Farms boost its mussel production by increasing per-acre grow-out efficiency, which will lead to expansion with a limited increase in carbon footprint,” Hori said.
Currently, Atlantic Aqua Farms has more than 4,500 acres of water leases. As part of its 10-year plan to develop the production of hatchery-grown mussel seed in P.E.I., Atlantic Aqua Farms is looking at developing a breeding program that will integrate genetic markers for temperature robustness in both triploids and diploids.
“Genomics is what makes the prospect of boosting mussel production without expanding the water lease footprint realistic, and it’s another example of how important this area of science is to the future growth and sustainability of resource-based industries like aquaculture in Atlantic Canada,” said Steve Armstrong, president and chief executive officer of Genome Atlantic.
Ramón Filgueira, a Dalhousie University associate professor in sustainable management of coastal aquaculture sites, said the triploid breeding program aims to develop more climate-resilient mussels.
“Triploids are known to struggle with heat stress and this tendency is potentially problematic in some areas of P.E.I. where water temperatures are already on the high side for mussel cultivation and the warming trend is expected to continue with climate change. We believe that this issue can be mitigated using genomics to inform selective breeding in the triploid mussel seed,” said Filgueira, the project’s second principal co-investigator.
Stefan Leslie, chief executive officer of Research Nova Scotia, a co-funder of the project said by investing in initiatives like this one, they are helping shape the future of sustainable aquaculture and fostering a culture of mission-driven research.
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