WorldFish will embark on new research to create more resilient fish with characteristics such as disease resistance and more effective feed utilization. Based on a roadmap developed with world experts at a WorldFish-hosted fish breeding workshop on 23–24 May at The Roslin Institute in Edinburgh, the research will use advanced techniques such as genomic selection to introduce these characteristics into its improved tilapia strains.
Since 1988, WorldFish has used selective breeding to develop and manage the fast-growing Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain. The strain has been disseminated to at least 16 countries, mostly in the developing world, and is grown by millions of small-scale fish farmers for food, income and nutrition across the globe.
Illustration Photo: Harvested GIFT tilapia, Bangladesh (credits: WorldFish / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))
Use of genomic selection tools, which enable the selection of animals based on genetic markers, will allow WorldFish to expand its GIFT research beyond a growth-only focus and introduce selection for characteristics that are otherwise difficult to measure, such as resilience and feed efficiency. Genomic selection has enabled a step change in the rate of genetic improvement of terrestrial livestock, and has the potential to do the same in fish.
Expansion of GIFT research is a key part of the CGIAR Research Program on fish (FISH) and supports WorldFish efforts under its sustainable aquaculture program to increase the productivity of small-scale aquaculture to meet growing global demand for fish.