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New partnership to discover the microbes present in salmon

Genome British Columbia, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are embarking on a new partnership to discover the microbes present in salmon in British Columbia (BC) that may be undermining the productivity of BC’s Pacific salmon. The project will conduct epidemiological assessments to explore the transmission dynamics and historical presence of detected microbes, with key focus on microbes that are suspected globally to be causing disease in salmon. Researchers will apply genomic technology to identify and verify which microbes are presently carried by BC’s wild and cultured fish.

The project is being managed in four sequential Phases: (1) collection of tissue samples from both cultured and wild salmon; (2) rigorous analysis of the tissue samples collected in Phase 1 and in previous research, to determine when and where microbes may have been transmitted; (3) focusing in on the microbes identified in Phase 2, with an emphasis on microbes that have not been extensively researched and that are thought to be of pathological significance in salmon; and (4) dissemination of findings to management agencies on the potential utility of methods developed and the application of outcomes to future monitoring.

Over 90% of juvenile salmon migrating from freshwater into the ocean will die before returning to freshwater to spawn. The scientific community believes that mortality is highest during the first few months in the marine environment and that disease may be a significant factor in this mortality, but not enough is known about what pathogens or diseases might be involved.

What is already known comes almost exclusively from observations of cultured fish (both in hatcheries and in aquaculture). Consequently, there is a fair understanding of pathogens and diseases that impact salmon in freshwater hatcheries and sea-water net pens, but a much poorer understanding of pathogens affecting Pacific salmon in the ocean.   


Story source: Adapted from a Genome BC News Release, 11 Mar 2013


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