Aquaculture Research Achievements and Impacts 2014

By: Hanping Wang, PhD, Senior Research Scientist

Summary of Achievements: In 2014, in collaborations with the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center Molecular and Cellular Imaging Center (MCIC), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Lincoln University of Missouri, the Ohio Soybean Council, Battelle, and several international institutions, we accomplished ten research studies and projects including the 3-year on-farm on-station tests of improved yellow perch vs. local unimproved fish; published four journal articles and eight proceedings abstracts; received two grants; trained eight graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and scholars; completed/submitted seven new grant proposals; and made 8 presentations at international conferences.

O’GIFT (Ohio Genetic Improvement of Farmed-fish Traits) Program: The O’GIFT program is expected to increase aquaculture production of perch, bluegill and largemouth bass by 35-50% through the development of genetically improved broodstocks for producers.

On-farm and on-station tests of improved yellow perch in ponds: The 3-year project of the on-station and on-farm tests of genetically improved yellow perch was completed on three sites in two states using both separate rearing and communal rearing methods. This is an important step for commercialization of genetically improved strains. The testing results showed improved fish exhibited 27.6% - 42.1% higher production, and 25.5% - 37.5% higher growth rates, while having 12.3% - 27.8% higher survival than local strains, on the average, across the three sites.

Performance test of OSU improved perch vs. Bell perch in Recirculating Aquaculture System (RAS): Two strains, 500 fish of each, were provided by Bell Aquaculture. OSU provided 500 fish from its genetically improved line. Each strain was tagged with visible implant elastomer color tags, and stocked to each of the two 6’x6’ round recirculating tanks and a 10’ x 5’ round tank with flow-through water, and communally raised in the same density/environment for an accurate comparison. After the 6-month test, OSU genetically improved lines outweighed Bell perch strains by 43.6% on average. This result shows OSU improved perch not only significantly grow faster in pond conditions, but also in recirculating tank systems. The 43.6% improvement can potentially save perch farmers as much as 43.6% of the grow-out time in both pond and recirculating tank systems.

Genomic sequence and tool development: In collaboration with OARDC MCIC, we completed restriction-site associated (RAD)/DNA sequencing of five strains of yellow perch to develop single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and identify genomic diversity of those strains for further improved perch growth. We also completed RNA sequencing of males and females in yellow perch to identify genes associated with sex dimorphism and sex determination, and developed a all-female yellow perch population using improved fish. The all-female population should be able to grow 50% faster than unimproved regular mixed populations. In addition, we completed RAD/DNA sequencing of white and black crappie to develop SNPs and identify genomic diversity of those species for a future crappie breeding program.

Improvement of egg hatching rate for industry: In 2014, we completed a project on determining efficacy of formalin, iodine, and sodium chloride in improvement of egg hatching rate and fry survival prior to the onset of exogenous feeding in yellow perch. The study revealed that formalin was a more effective disinfectant to improve the hatching rate and survival to first feeding fry of yellow perch than iodine and sodium chloride. To improve the hatching rate ,a concentration of 150 to 250 mg L-1 for 30 min is recommended to disinfect the eggs of yellow perch daily from the beginning to the eyed stage. The results have been published in Aquaculture Research and will be used by fish farmers to improve the egg hatching rate and fry production of yellow perch.


Yellow Perch Breeding: Multiple improved lines of yellow perch have been developed, and over one-million genetically improved fish have been distributed to fish farms. Three male populations with a female genotype have been created, which could produce fast-growing all-female populations for the aquaculture industry. Three projects related to sex-control and breeding were completed and three manuscripts on these projects are in preparation or in revision.


Bluegill Breeding: Three experiments related to sex-control and genotypes by environment interaction on sex ratio were completed. The findings on effects of temperature and genotype on sex determination and sexual size dimorphism of bluegill sunfish have been published in Aquaculture, a prestigious international journal. The results from these experiments provide a valuable base for developing all-male broodstock for bluegill, which could grow 35-50% faster than mixed populations.


Soy-Aqua Research Initiative:

In collaboration with the Ohio Soybean Council and Battelle, two projects have been completed in 2014. The first study, comprised of five major experimental phases, was conducted to develop indirect criteria to improve residual feed intake (RFI) of soybean diets (SBD) in yellow perch for selective breeding. With the high cost of feed for animal production, genetic selection for animals that metabolize feed more efficiently could result in substantial cost savings for fish producers. The current study showed that the weight loss during the feed deprivation period and the weight gain during a subsequent period of re-feeding are linked to variations in RFI in yellow perch. Such traits could be used as indirect criteria for improving RFI in fish through selective breeding.

In the second study, a modified soybean meal (MSBM) containing high protein and lower levels of anti-nutritional factors (ANFs) relative to regular soybean meal was evaluated as an alternative for fishmeal in the diet of yellow perch with significant success. Higher growth performance and feed utilization was observed for 50% replacement of fish meal (FM) by MSBM fed groups compared to 100% replacement of FM by soybean meal and MSBM fed groups. Modified soybean meal with high protein and low ANFs has considerable potential as an alternative to fishmeal in aquafeed.


Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Laboratory:

This is the first lab of its type in the Midwest and is crucial to the success of the O’GIFT program and the improvement of farmed-fish traits. In this lab, genetic relatedness charts and genetic pedigrees of selected broodfish have been constructed for breeding programs for the past years. Family identification technology using DNA for selective breeding in yellow perch and bluegill has been established. Genotyping 900 fish from the breeding center for constructing genetic relatedness charts for the breeding program was finished in 2014. The data generated from the lab in 2014 has contributed to fourteen papers in prestigious international journals and proceedings, including twelve published in 2014.


International training program:

Leading research in aquaculture genetics and breeding at OSU South Centers has attracted more than twenty scientists and international scholars to work in the aquaculture research center and genetics lab at Piketon. In 2014, the lab trained eight visiting Ph.D. students, post-doctorial researchers and international scholars from four countries. These individuals significantly contributed to the aquaculture program’s success at the OSU South Centers.