Fishing industry urged to hook into genomic tools

Nelson Plant and Food senior scientist Maren Wellenreuther says the use of genomic tools could be a game changer for the fishing industry.

The fishing industry needs to start using genomic tools to secure its, says a Nelson scientist.

A new study, co-written by Plant and Food senior scientist Dr Maren Wellenreuther, shows the science of genomics is still under-utilised in the global seafood industry.

Genomics is the study of  the genes that control characteristics in organisms.

Wellenreuther said it can  help breeders select desirable traits in parents and offspring was well-established in plant and animal breeding programmes.

However, its potential for improving the health and viability of fish stocks remained largely untapped. 

“Many fisheries around the world continue to decline, and to get a different result, we need to do something differently,” she said.

“This could be a step change that could reverse of what is currently a very poor outlook-decreasing stocks, increasing demands, let alone fish under pressure from environmental change.”

Wellenreuther said genomic tools could help to improve fish stocks.

“Because we could tailor management more accurately, population by population, area by area.

“Genomics can also improve aquaculture production, because we can find and encourage desirable traits that will help the species to flourish.”

Fishing and aquaculture provide 4.5 billion people with 15 per cent of their animal protein. 

Wellenreuther said it was “a pressing question” how the fishing and aquaculture industry was going to cope with a rapidly growing global population.

“Genomics techniques can help domestic fish populations grow faster, track the impact of hatchery releases, develop disease resistance and identify more wild populations suitable for aquaculture.

“[The] tools were expensive in the past, but the costs have recently come down so it’s now feasible to use. If we start now, costs will only further decrease.”

Wellenreuther said the value of using genomic tools and information in breeding fish “does not need to be further proven”.

“Instead, we need immediate efforts to remove structural roadblocks and to integrate genomic-informed methods into management and production practices.”

The study Harnessing the Power of Genomics to Secure the Future of Seafood was based on research from fisheries scientists and policy makers in Australia, Europe, North and South America, the western Pacific, South Africa and New Zealand. The paper was published in Trends in Ecology and Evolution

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Genomics is an increasingly important component of both basic and industry-aligned research. That is why the New Zealand Government established NZGL – so local scientists had local access to the genomics technology and expertise needed to remain internationally competitive. All data is retained onshore, where it is secure and accessible to researchers through NZGL’s IT platform and supported software.

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NZGL provides up to two hours of free advice from the bioinformatics team, as well as the free “Talk to a Bioinformatician” sessions, held regularly on the Auckland, Massey and Otago university campuses. Both of these options can help you work through aspects of your project, such as determining its practicalities, establishing approximate costs and assisting with grant application wording.

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The vision for NZGL is to have a significant, positive and wide-reaching impact on New Zealand’s national genomics capability, by ensuring New Zealand researchers and innovators have access to large-scale genomics infrastructure. This will include support and knowledge available through a nationwide collaborative approach. In the context of its vision for New Zealand genomics, NZGL will have a three-dimensional role as a facilitator, enabler and investor.

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VALUING ON-SHORE ACCESS TO TECHNOLOGY AND PEOPLE
On-shore access to genomics technology is delivering faster, more cost-effective sequencing services to the New Zealand Bio-Protection Research Centre, as well as ready access to the individuals carrying out the work. More »

SCIENTISTS EXPLORE IMPLICATIONS OF “JUMPING GENES” FOR PLANT SCIENCE
Genomics research into the “jumping genes” of grapes could have a wide-reaching impact for other plant species. More »

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USING GENOMICS TO IMPROVE DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT OF TUBERCULOSIS
Tuberculosis (TB) may have a low profile in New Zealand, but it still infects 300 Kiwis every year – and at a disproportionately higher rate in Maori and Pacific populations. More »

GUT BACTERIA COULD BE THE BASIS OF NEW DIABETES TREATMENTS
The concept of stomach surgery to help patients lose weight is well understood – a smaller stomach will feel fuller, after less food. However, University of Auckland research shows there is more to the surgery than simple physics. More »

BIOINFORMATICS INSPIRES
While focused on delivering a service to clients, NZGL also has a goal of improving New Zealand’s human capability in the field of genomics. Never is that more satisfying than when the science naturally attracts a young researcher. More »

GLOWWORM COULD PROVIDE NEW TOOL IN RESEARCH LABS
Could the New Zealand glowworm have a crucial role to play in progressing biomedical research? More »

THE ROLE OF SMALL RNA IN ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE
Recent research suggests that small molecules in the brain, known as microRNA, may act as chief control points in neurological disease. More »

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EARLY WORK ON A POSSIBLE BIO-CONTROL AGENT
A Lincoln University study is investigating the positive role a particular fungus could have on plant performance. PhD student Aimee McKinnon is using maize as the model system to investigate the impact of two strains of Beauveria bassiana, an apparently harmless fungus which exists throughout the world. More »

EXPLORING THE PROGNOSTIC ROLE OF COHESIN IN HORMONE-SENSITIVE BREAST CANCER
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HELPING HAND FOR CONSERVATIONISTS
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CHEEK SWABS SHORTCUT RUMEN SAMPLING PROCESS
Ground-breaking work by AgResearch scientists shows that taking cheek swabs from inside a ruminant’s mouth provides an accurate insight to that animal’s rumen microbial community. More »

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Research has revealed genetic diversity in the immune systems of New Zealand’s kakapo that could help the population’s long-term survival. More »

FINDING ANSWERS AROUND RED-BAND NEEDLE BLIGHT
Massey University molecular plant pathologist Rosie Bradshaw is studying the genetic details of a fungal pathogen of pine trees, to determine if the timing and nature of its gene expression hold answers to help control dothistroma needle blight. More »

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INTRODUCTORY WORKSHOP:BIOINFORMATICS AND GENOMICS

Have you heard about new sequencing technologies and wondered if they might be applicable to your research? Are you interested in doing some genetic/gene expression work, but not quite sure how to proceed or what is involved? If so, this free, half-day introductory workshop is for you. more »

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This one-day hands-on workshop will see you generating a new bacterial and eukaryotic genome. You will go through the theory and process of assembling the genome, automatically predicting genes and other genomic features, and presenting it to end users. more »

ADVANCED WORKSHOP:16S METAGENOMICS ANALYSIS WORKSHOP

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