Development of genomic health assessment tools for marine mussels (MYT-OMICS)



The BC coastline is under increasing pressure from competing coastal zone utilization and potential climate change impacts, highlighting the need for effective diagnostic tools of coastal ecosystem health and function. One of the major problems in assessing shellfish health is how to determine the organism's response to multiple stressing agents in the natural environment such as temperature, salinity, oxygen levels and diet as well as to anthropogenic effects such as xenobiotic pollution and aquaculture husbandry methods. Unexplained shellfish mortalities in four major BC aquaculture companies accounted for $6 million in lost sales in 2007 alone. It is likely that the complex interaction of these factors is responsible for the mass mortality events seen, although it is not known to what extent each factor contributes and what combinations result in fatalities.

Marine mussels (Mytilus spp) are dominant members of coastal and estuarine communities and are established worldwide keystone bioindicator species and aquaculture organisms. Within this project we will develop genomic information and tools for use in the study of Mytilus spp. We will use these tools to examine the stress responses of Mytilus spp. with the goal of understanding the causes of seasonal mortality. An understanding of the factors responsible for significant mortality events can be used by the shellfish industry to development management practices to reduce their losses. In addition genomic information and tools developed within this program will be available for use by other research groups. This project is complementary to our Genome BC project funded under the Science Opportunities Fund program.

Program Name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


2009 - 2012


Pacific: Vancouver Island West Coast

Principal Investigator(s)

Stewart Johnson