Selective Breeding is an activity that mankind has carried out instinctively since the first plant crops that sustained ancient civilizations. However, domestication of animals and adaptation to captivity has taken longer, except for the species that were employed for commercial uses such as horses, cattle, pigs, chickens, or our dear pets; dogs, and cats. Mating these domesticated populations with a systematic and scientific approach began in the 17th and 18th centuries, but in the case of aquaculture, the first modern breeding program in salmon wasn’t established until the 1970’s. More and more, improved cultivation of plants and animals is recognized as essential to meet the requirements of growing human consumption, with aquaculture representing an important source of healthy protein and micronutrients.
When managing crops or culture systems of any kind, a founding population is established as a starting point followed by a further selection of animals with desired traits relevant for the efficiency of the process or consumer acceptance. The design of the crosses and the general strategies to reach the breeding goals varies considering the geographical area and its economic conditions, the species, the knowledge/expertise of the producers and the needs of the market.
Many farmers are up to date with new technologies for stocking at higher densities, animal nutritional requirements, and general management of commercial species. However, relatively few have taken the step of tracking and improving the genetic characteristics of their breeders and offspring as an essential part of their operations. The use of molecular markers is by far, one of the main scientific tools used to help manage breeding programs today.
CLICK HERE TO READ THE FULL ARTICLE BY DR. ADRIANA ARTILES IN THE SEPTEMBER ISSUE OF HATCHERY FEED&MANAGEMENT.
Dr. Adriana Artiles is a Breeding Scientist at CAT. As part of the team, she brings her expertise and enthusiasm for both field and laboratory work to help clients worldwide to design, implement, and manage breeding programs for a variety of aquatic species.