Aquaculture Magazine

Experts set roadmap for tilapia genetics development

World experts convened this week for a two-day workshop in Edinburgh, Scotland, to develop a new roadmap for future tilapia research, according to a WorldFish press release.

The event, organized by the international, nonprofit research organization, saw experts discuss developing more resilient fish with characteristics such as disease resistance and more effective feed utilization.

WorldFish has used selective breeding to develop and manage the fast-growing Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain since 1988. The strain is used in at least 16 countries, mostly in the developing world, according to WorldFish.

Workshop attendees included experts from WorldFish’s Malaysian and Egyptian bases, The Roslin Institute, Swedish University of Life Sciences, Stirling University’s Institute of Aquaculture, Earlham Institute, Wageningen University and CIRAD.

The roadmap will feed into a strategy for the genetic improvement and dissemination of GIFT seed in Africa.

John Benzie, programme leader of sustainable aquaculture at WorldFish, said: “Incorporating new genetic traits in GIFT will help fish farmers prepare for future challenges such as climate change and increasing evidence of disease risks. This will particularly benefit farmers in Africa and Asia, where tilapia is critical for food security yet farmers often have limited access to improved fish breeds suited to local conditions.”

Ross Houston, group leader at The Roslin Institute said: “Aquaculture production needs to increase by 40% by 2030 to meet global demands for fish. Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) is arguably the world’s most important food fish, and plays a key role in tackling rural poverty in developing countries. The innovations in genetic improvement mapped out in this workshop are an important step toward achieving these ambitious goals.”

WorldFish said the roadmap will be further developed at the Genetics Network meeting hosted by WorldFish at the World Aquaculture 2017 conference in Cape Town on June 26–30.


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