Aqua Gen AS
Aqua Gen AS is a major provider of genetically improved seed for the salmon industry in Norway, with considerable export also to Chile and the United Kingdom. The company’s main product is fertilized eggs of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout. Hatcheries are the next step in the value chain, where the eggs are hatched and reared to the smolt stage – with subsequent transfer to marine sea cages for grow-out to harvest size.
Selective Breeding in Aquaculture
Genetic research initiated in the 1940s has resulted in remarkable developments in increasing the productivity of domestic mammals and birds. The first large-scale selective breeding programme for fish was initiated in Norway in the early 1970s by livestock scientists and was developed in parallel with the emerging salmon industry. Aqua Gen manages the commercial continuation of this breeding programme, and after several generations of systematic genetic improvement, the seed stock populations can now be considered the heirloom of Norwegian fish farming. Important traits in the breeding scheme include growth rate, improvement of filet quality, and improved survival and overall resistance to infectious diseases.
Research & Development
Selective breeding in fish employs the scientific methods developed in livestock animal breeding. The traditional approach is based on quantitative genetics, but today’s research has a much greater emphasis on refining and elaborating the selection by means of molecular methods.
Aqua Gen is a partner in Biobank AS, which makes a systematic storage of biological material possible. This is a unique platform for development of new breeding technology based on state-of-the-art molecular genetics. Aqua Gen carries out both in-house R&D activities and external collaborations with Norwegian and foreign research institutions.
The breeding populations, with systematic pedigree information over nine generations and linked to millions of recorded phenotypic data, represent an invaluable source of data and information for genetic research. Beyond genetic research, Aqua Gen is also involved in research in the fields of reproduction technologies and fish health, such as prevention of vertical transfer of fish pathogens via gametes