A new partnership to develop a large-scale genetic breeding program for spotted rose snapper (Lutjanus guttatus) has been created by U.K. headquartered aquaculture genetics company Xelect and Central American producer Martec.

Based in Quepos, Costa Rica, Martec is a fully-integrated, Best Aquaculture Practices-certified company that is looking to ramp up its production to 10,000 metric tons (MT) per year. By joining forces with Xelect, it expects to introduce modern genetics techniques, which will balance pedigree control and inbreeding with continuous gains in important traits through selective breeding, it said in a press release.

“After more than a decade applying traditional methods, we’re starting to use 21st century technology to choose the best fish for breeding our future generations,” Martec Technical Director Tony Broadhurst said.

According to Xelect Breeding Program Manager Carlos Diaz Gil, the first step is to develop a bespoke genetic marker panel for Martec, which will allow the analysis of genetic relatedness.

“We’ll then effectively work as an in-house genetics department for them, analyzing hundreds of thousands of possible breeding combinations to create the best possible improvements in key traits,” he said.

Xelect CEO Ian Johnston said he sees this as part of a rapid shift toward genetics becoming “the norm” for producers of all sizes.

“In the last couple of years, we’re increasingly seeing all the main producers switching to genetics-backed breeding. It’s not just the traditional favorites like salmon, bass, and bream – we’ve recently begun work on a whole range such as rohu carp, tilapia, and pangasius,” he said. “The whole industry is waking up to what’s possible.” 

Photo courtesy of Xelect

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