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Validation of genomic selection among Atlantic salmon for resistance to infection by sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis), and concomitant susceptibility to Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV)



The sea louse, Lepeoptheirus salmonis, continues to be the cause of disease with the greatest impact on the economics of salmon farming, globally. It is generally believed that selection of farmed salmon for sea louse resistance, in combination with the use of a vaccination, would be the most environmentally-friendly approach to sea lice management. However, there are no effective sea louse vaccines available at this time. As such, it is imperative for the industry to assess its genetic stocks for their robustness against sea lice disease.

Despite the benefits that selecting for one resistance trait may provide, there is always the concern that gains in resistance to one disease agent will impact the resistance to another disease agent. This could result in gains or losses in resistance, growth rate or unforeseen traits. While a previous ACRDP project (15-1-M-01) has produced selection information for sea lice resistance, it is not known what impact breeding for resistance to sea lice would have on the susceptibility to other pathogens, such as Infectious Salmon Anaemia Virus (ISAV). ISAV is considered a major pathogen of Atlantic salmon on the eastern coast of Canada and, despite much improved management practices to minimize outbreaks, ISAV continues to cause losses and force eradication events that impact the aquaculture industry of Atlantic Canada. In this study, a group of salmon, including presumed sea lice resistant families, will be exposed to sea lice to assess gains in sea lice resistance. The same mix of salmon families will be challenged with ISAV in order to determine whether selection for lice resistance has any impact on resistance to ISAV.

Program name

Aquaculture Collaborative Research and Development Program (ACRDP)


Three years: 2018-2021

Principal investigator

Steven Leadbeater, aquatic science biologist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. Andrews Biological Station, Maritimes Region

Team members

Marc Trudel, research scientist, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, St. Andrews Biological Station, Maritimes Region
Jake Elliott, Vice-President of Freshwater Operations, Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
Frank Powell, Broodstock and Traceability Manager, Cooke Aquaculture Inc.
Anthony Manning, senior scientist, New Brunswick Research and Productivity Council


Keng Pee Ang, Vice-President of Research, Kelly Cove Salmon Ltd.

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