Manit Farm

The Success of Selective Breeding in Aquaculture

A selective breeding program works! Decades of experience in plant and livestock production on land have provided numerous testimonies to the vital importance of well-designed and effective breeding programs. Norway has successfully transferred knowledge from livestock breeding to applications in aquaculture. Today, the high yields obtained from agriculture are almost entirely based on genetically improved breeds. The pioneering work with family based selection with Atlantic salmon in Norway which has resulted in phenomenal improvements production efficiency over the past two decades is legendary.

The Norwegian experience in Atlantic salmon clearly showed that the genetic improvement obtained by selective breeding programs contributed substantially to the development of a sustainable and profitable farmed salmon industry.

Systematic genetic improvement has been a cornerstone in the development of the Norwegian aquaculture industry. The genetic work has produced stocks of farmed salmon that are better adapted to commercial farming environments, grow twice as fast and demonstrate significantly improved feed conversion as compared to the base material collected from wild Norwegian river strains. As a result of efficient dissemination of genetically improved stocks, the Norwegian salmon farming industry benefited from reduced feed costs by more than US$ 230 million per year as its current production volume.

Akvaforsk Genetics has actively transferred knowledge from selection in cold water species like salmonids to tropical species like tilapia

Morten Rye 2
"Norwegian transfer of genetics knowledge has had a major impact on the development of aquaculture production in tropical fish species in Asia." Morten Rye, Managing Director, Akvaforsk Genetics

Progift Aquaculture, China

Akvaforsk Genetics has worked together with Progift Aquaculture since 2004 developing three genetically superior breeds of tilapia in China – Progift Nile (Oreochromis niloticus), Progift Blue (O. aureus) and Progift Red (O. sp.). The initial years of development focused on adapting the selective breeding technology to local conditions and build local competence in managing tilapia breeding programs.

Nile tilapia of the GIFT breed, already selected 10 generations for faster growth in different freshwater environments, were imported from Vietnam for further development in China. After an additional 11 generations of selection, the Progift Nile is considered the fastest growing tilapia breed in China.

Under common production conditions in freshwater earthen ponds, the Progift Nile reaches average harvest weights of 500 grams after three months and 2.5 kg after eight months of feeding! These very good results with Progift Nile encouraged similar developmental work with other tilapia species. Breeding populations of Progift Blue and Progift Red were established by combining genetic materials from several local and imported hatchery populations. Selection responses in these new breeds have been even larger than that achieved with Progift Nile due to shorter developmental history and greater genetic variation.

Growth of Progift Blue has more than doubled after six generations of selection. In addition to improving the genetic growth potential, the Progift tilapia breeds have been selected to improve fillet yield, pond survival, cold-water tolerance, salinity tolerance and external color traits. 

The great value created in these genetically improved breed of tilapia is realized by an efficient system of multiplication and dissemination of genetically improved seed to Chinese tilapia farmers. Progift Aquaculture has built the largest tilapia hatchery in the world with an annual capacity of producing several billions genetically improved tilapia seed. 

When asked to evaluate the long-lasting cooperation with Akvaforsk Genetics, Simon Yuen, the owner of Progift Aquaculture, says the achieved results demonstrate the superiority of Akvaforsk Genetics’ technology for genetically improving tilapia species.

Simon Yuen
"I also appreciate the flexibility expressed by representatives from Akvaforsk Genetics by being strict concerning technical procedures while at the same time showing humbleness in the process of implementing these procedures." Simon Yuen, owner of Progift Aquaculture

Manit Farm, Thailand

In Asia we also work with Manit Farm, who operates large scale breeding programs for Nile and red tilapia in Thailand. This work, initiated in 2006, has produced the robust and fast growing SuperBlack and SuperRed stocks that are in very high demand throughout the Thai tilapia sector.

Manit Farm

Manit Farm

We harmonize our own 20-year experience in Tilapia farming with the experience in aquatic animal breeding and selection and the latest technology of the scientists from Akvaforsk Genetics to develop and fine-tune our Tilapia and Red Tilapia strain. The result showed that the prominent attributes of Tilapia that our customers need are; resistance to disease, fast growth, small head, thick ridge, and overall meaty”

Amorn Luengnaruemitchai
"During the past 10 years of collaboration and friendship with Akvaforsk Genetics scientists, I very much appreciate their professionalism and trustworthiness!" Amorn Luengnaruemitchai, CEO of Manit Farm

Spring Genetics, US

Our Benchmark sister company Spring Genetics operates one of the world’s most advanced breeding programs for Nile tilapia, designed and supervised by Akvaforsk Genetics. Spring Genetics runs its breeding nucleus operations in Miami, Florida, and distributes genetically improved, high performing materials to integrated companies and affiliated multiplication hatcheries throughout the Americas.  The Spring Genetics stock has been selected for key traits such as fast growth, survivability and yield, and more recently for resistance to Streptococcus iniae and Streptococcus agalactiae. Selection of disease resistance is based on controlled challenge testing of nucleus families. The pioneering work on selection for increased resistance to Streptococcus iniae and Streptococcus agalactiae represent a major milestone for genetic work in tilapias worldwide, and will be followed up with search for informative genetic markers which may pave the way for marker assisted selection for these traits.

Tilapia Miami Hideoshy Segovia
Spring Genetics has implemented routine testing and selection for improved resistance to diseases, which represents a milestone in tilapia breeding.
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