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Genetics Program Underway at The Oyster Restoration Company

The Oyster Restoration Company’s team welcomed genetics services providers Xelect to their Orkney broodstock site this week to take tissue samples as the start of their selective breeding programme.

To begin the process, with help from The Oyster Restoration Company’s Lucy McGinley, Xelect’s Lidia de Los Ríos Pérez from took tissue samples to create a DNA panel, pit tagging the oysters for cross-referencing at a later date.

Hatchery Manager, Anna Overweter said “Xelect is a natural choice as a long-term genetics service provider for our project and we were happy to welcome their team to site.”

The selective breeding of native oysters at The Oyster Restoration Company has multiple benefits including accelerating growth, increasing disease resistance and improving yields for farmers. These traits all to help reduce the dependency on the introduced pacific species currently dominating UK and European oyster production.

Genetic selection of improved strains is also a key driver influencing the profitability of aquaculture companies, particularly with respect to the need to achieve faster growth, higher feed conversion efficiency, increased yield, improved product quality and greater resistance to major diseases that impact survival.

Dr Nik Sachlikidis said, “our genetics program is a key tool in managing our broodstock populations in a scientifically meaningful and ecologically thoughtful way. We think of our large broodstock holding as a genetic reference library and through our program we are able to ensure that it is properly catalogued for use in our native oyster breeding programme.

“In this way we can ensure genetic diversity in our hatchery product whilst enhancing beneficial traits, such as disease resistance. We are excited to take the next steps in our genetics program for The Oyster Restoration Company.

“This is a major step forward towards our mission to make our seas and oceans more sustainable by creating a huge, reliable supply of oysters, and is a great way to end the year.”



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