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Breeding Better Blue Mussels (Mytilus edulis): Developing Genomic Tools for the Implementation of a Modern and Sustainable Mussel Breeding Program

Status: 
Active
Competition: 
Regional Priorities Partnership Program (RP3)
Sector: 
Fisheries and Aquaculture
Genome Centre(s):
Genome Atlantic
Project Leader(s):
Tiago Hori (PEI Department ofAgriculture and Fisheries)
GE3LS: 
No
Fiscal Year Project Launched: 
2019-2020
Project Description: 

The purpose of this research proposal is to generate genetics and genomics resources for the blue mussel that will be useful to the Prince Edward Island growers. The development of genomic resources is a strategic priority of the P.E.I. mussel aquaculture industry and of the provincial government and these resources are critical for the sustainability and further development of the industry. The proposed project aims to sequence and characterize the genome of the blue mussel and develop the tools that will allow P.E.I. mussel producers to implement a modern breeding program. Unlike other aquaculture and agriculture industries, the P.E.I mussel industry has yet to develop a broodstock program or the genomics-based technologies required to improve P.E.I. mussel genetics at an accelerated rate. With 100 per cent of the seed stocks coming from wild settlement, there is a high degree of risk for the industry. These are related to changing ecosystem conditions and potential variability in the successful collection of naturally spawned seed due to environmental factors, including, but not limited to water temperature, pH and weather-related events. These risks are complicated by climate-change, as its effects can further amplify the variance and magnitude of the changes in environmental conditions. In addition, wild spat collection limits further growth of the P.E.I. mussel industry. The proposed project focuses on generating genomic resources that will facilitate the development of a mussel broodstock program and will enable an easy transition to the future application of genomic-based selection. The two key outcomes of this project will be (1) the generation of key genomic resources that will allow for the establishment of a broodstock program (e.g. draft genome and a SNP panel for diversity analysis and parent assignment) and (2) a plan for the implementation of selective broodstock program. These outcomes will enable the industry to reduce its dependence on naturally occurring seed and facilitate the selection of specific desirable traits, which will result in increased profitability and success.