Aquaculture North America

Sequencing the Atlantic salmon genome

June 27, 2014
By Brad Hicks

The breakthrough was announced at the International Conference on Integrative Salmonid Biology (ICISB) held in Vancouver, BC early last month.      

“This reference genome will provide crucial information to fish managers to improve the production and sustainability of aquaculture operations,” reads a statement from the International Cooperation (Project) to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome (ICSASG).

It will “address challenges around conservation of wild stocks, preservation of at-risk fish populations and environmental sustainability.”

         “Salmonids are also a key species for research,” notes the statement, “and while some salmon genetic information is known, many fundamental questions have remained” including a fully assembled reference sequence available for researchers worldwide to use.


         The sequencing “will have a major impact on revealing information about salmon and other salmonids, such as rainbow trout and Pacific salmon.”

         Viruses and pathogens continue to present a challenging hazard to livelihoods and economies dependent on salmon, so “this sequence provides real support to improve the production of salmonids in a sustainable way.”

         “Other benefits of the salmon sequence include applications for food security and traceability and broodstock selection for commercially important traits.”

         “Knowledge of the whole genome makes it possible to see how genes interact with each other, and (to) examine the exact gene that governs a certain trait such as resistance against a particular disease,” Dr. Steinar Bergseth, chairperson for the International Steering Committee for the ICSASG, is cited as saying. “The development of vaccines and targeted treatment (for farmed salmon) is much closer.”

         “A better scientific understanding of this species and its genome is a critical step towards improving the growth and management of global fisheries and aquaculture,” Genome BC president and CEO Dr. Alan Winter summed up. “The level of international collaboration seen in this project is a testament to the importance of global coordination to address challenges too big for any one country individually.”

– Quentin Dodd

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