Study offers new genomic tools for cod breeding

Researchers at Nofima developed an SNP panel for cod that can be useful for the aquaculture industry.

A SNP panel can be seen in the background, which scientists Anne Kettunen and Luqman Aslam can use to breed better-farmed cod. Photo: Joe Urrutia © Nofima
December 16, 2022

Funded by MABIT, an R&D program within marine biotechnology in Northern Norway, Nofima’s researchers have developed a new single nucleotide polymorphism panel (SNP panel) for cod that can be useful for the aquaculture industry.

The creation of the new SNP panel involved finding variations in the Norwegian cod population genome and has been developed by using both Norwegian farmed and wild cod. This information is in the SNP panel with a total of 21,000 markers and scientists can now use the SNP panel to find QTLs (Quantitative Trait Loci).

“We have found QTL for growth. We can also use the SNP panel to find QTLs for different health traits and sexual maturation,” said Anne Kettunen, Nofima’s scientist.

The panel is free to use so farmers can genotype their cod to calculate relationships between fish or look for beneficial gene variants.

“We have now tailored a genomic tool for cod, that is, we can breed based on the good traits of individuals. The tool is openly available and well-timed seeing that cod farming is on the rise again. It can contribute to more efficient seafood production,” said Kettunen.

“This is probably the first medium-density SNP panel suitable for both research and commercial use in cod breeding programs,” said Luqman Aslam, research at Nofima.

Kettunen and Aslam plan to use the tool themselves in research projects. For example, they will study resistance to the bacterial disease francisellosis as well as in routine selection in the cod breeding program.