Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Genetics Selection Evolution and BioMed Central.

Open Access Research

Breeding salmonids for feed efficiency in current fishmeal and future plant-based diet environments

Cheryl D Quinton1*, Antti Kause1, Juha Koskela2 and Ossi Ritola3

Author Affiliations

1 MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Biotechnology and Food Research, Biometrical Genetics, 31600 Jokioinen, Finland

2 Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute Jyväskylä, Survontie 9, 40500 Jyväskylä, Finland

3 Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Tervo Fisheries Research and Aquaculture, 72210 Tervo, Finland

For all author emails, please log on.

Genetics Selection Evolution 2007, 39:431-446  doi:10.1186/1297-9686-39-4-431

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Received:9 November 2006
Accepted:20 January 2007
Published:6 July 2007

© 2007 INRA, EDP Sciences


The aquaculture industry is increasingly replacing fishmeal in feeds for carnivorous fish with soybean meal (SBM). This diet change presents a potential for genotype-environment (G × E) interactions. We tested whether current salmonid breeding programmes that evaluate and select within fishmeal diets also improve growth and efficiency on potential future SBM diets. A total of 1680 European whitefish from 70 families were reared with either fishmeal- or SBM-based diets in a split-family design. Individual daily gain (DG), daily feed intake (DFI) and feed efficiency (FE) were recorded. Traits displayed only weak G × E interactions as variances and heritabilities did not differ substantially between the diets, and cross-diet genetic correlations were near unity. In both diets, DFI exhibited moderate heritability and had very high genetic correlation with DG whereas FE had low heritability. Predicted genetic responses demonstrated that selection to increase DG and FE on the fishmeal diet lead to favourable responses on the SBM diet. Selection for FE based on an index including DG and DFI achieved at least double FE gain versus selection on DG alone. Therefore, current breeding programmes are improving the biological ability of salmonids to use novel plant-based diets, and aiding the aquaculture industry to reduce fishmeal use.

feed efficiency; genotype-environment interaction; selection; aquaculture; Coregonus lavaretus


(To access the full article, please see PDF)