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International Effort Launched to Map Salmon Genome

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Canada, Chile, and Norway will collaborate to sequence and map the Atlantic salmon genome, which will serve as a public resource for use in managing fish stocks and breeding programs, and for quality, security, and traceability, Genome British Columbia said today.

The International Cooperation to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome will use around $6 million in its first phase, which will create the genomic map of the Atlantic salmon and create a reference guide for other salmonids, such as Pacific salmon and rainbow trout, as well as more distant relations such as pike and smelt.

The consortium includes collaborators Genome BC, the Chilean Economic Development Agency, the Norwegian Research Council, and the Norwegian Fishery and Aquaculture Industry Research Fund.

For the first phase of the project the consortium has chosen Beckman Coulter Genomics to provide genomics services for the project because it has been involved in the sequencing of many high profile genomes, Genome BC said.

The consortium expects that the fully annotated salmon genome will provide important information about the impact of cultured fish escapees on wild populations, about conservation of populations that are at risk, about strategies for fighting pathogens, and about environmental sustainability issues.

"This project is an international effort to address — in a whole new way — questions that are of economic and social importance to aquaculture, conservation, and the environment," Ben Koop, who directs the Centre for Biomedical Research at the University of Victoria and serves on the cooperation's executive science committee, said in a statement.

"The genomic data that we will acquire will be crucial to the development of new methods and products that will assist the world's wild fisheries and aquaculture industries," Genome BC CSO Pierre Meulien said in a statement. "In addition, this research builds on knowledge obtained through earlier fisheries research funded by Genome BC."

Salmon and related salmonid product exports in 2007 totaled $3.4 billion in Norway, $2.3 billion in Chile, and $600 million in Canada.

The first phase of the salmon research should be completed by early 2011, Genome BC said.

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