A new project that investigates the genetics behind gill physiology in Atlantic salmon, and features CIGENE’s Simen Sandve, has received funding from the Norwegian Research Council.
The project runs from 2024-27 and is led by David Hazlerigg at the University of Tromsø (UiT). In addition to UiT and NMBU the project features partners from the University of Aberdeen, MOWI and NOFIMA.
Atlantic salmon farming depends on freshwater rearing of juvenile fish from egg hatching until they are large enough to undergo transfer to seawater, where they can grow rapidly. Because of the high salt concentrations in seawater, fish need to undergo pronounced changes in gill physiology, enabling retention of water and salt excretion. Variability in the success with which this physiological change is achieved is believed to be a major factor contributing to mortality in the seawater phase of salmon production. This variability is due to combination of how freshwater rearing is performed and the genetic variation in salmon stocks.
The Hubsmolt project aims to assess the genetic aspect of variation in gill physiology, focussing on a region of salmon chromosome 14, referred to as the ´hub locus´. HubSmolt will investigate how variation at the hub locus affects development of juvenile salmon in freshwater and how this links to subsequent performance when the fish are moved to seawater. To achieve this, the researchers will conduct a range of experiments in fish following a typical commercial rearing protocol, including assessment of organ development, immune function, and responses to viral disease and handling stress. At the same time, they will gain a detailed depiction of the Hub locus on chromosome 14 and identify at a DNA-level how a single region of the fishes genome has such widespread effects on salmon development.
Congratulations to Dr Sandve for his role in gaining funding for this exciting project.