It started with GIFT
The GenoMar-strain originates from an internationally collaborative selective breeding program, Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT), coordinated by Akvaforsk, Norway and established in Munoz, Philippines. The GIFT strain, eventually under the ownership of the GIFT Foundation was made from eight different populations of Nile tilapia collected from Africa and Asia.
The GIFT- program was funded by the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations, and the International Center for Living Aquatic Resources Management (ICLARM, now the World Fish Center). Scientifically breeding methods, a combination of between family and within-family selection with full pedigree information were used from the very beginning.
The goal was to use the potential of selective breeding to increase important traits like growth rates, maturation and fecundity, and hardiness adapted to different environmental farming conditions.
Third generation growth evaluation
The third generation selected GIFT-strain showed in an evaluation study in Bangladesh, China, Philippines, Thailand, and Vietnam an average 18 percent greater body weight at harvest in China, and up to 58 percent in Bangladesh towards local strains.
GenoMar was founded
Professor Øystein Lie and coworkers founded GenoMar with commercial focus on DNA marker based parentage assisted breeding and traceability. The company is headquartered in Oslo, Norway.
GenoMar acquired a copy of the ninth generation
Based on an agreement between GenoMar and the GIFT Foundation International, GenoMar acquired a copy of the ninth generation of the GIFT-strain and was given the commercial rights and the responsibility to continue the breeding program of the GIFT-strain copy. The strain was now named under the brand GenoMar Supreme Tilapia (GST).
After nine generations of selective breeding, a test showed that the growth of the GIFT- strain was more than twice as fast compared to a local commercial strain in China.
DNA information used in the breeding program
To produce the accurate family relationships, GenoMar initiated to use the DNA information (microsatellite markers) to identify the parents and family in the Nile tilapia breeding program.
Development of high-density genotyping tool
GenoMar and the Center for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE) signed a collaboration agreement for the development and application of a genotyping tool, a high-density SNP array for Nile tilapia. This tool opens to use genetic information to select for many favorable traits.
First commercial high-density genotyping tool used for streptococcosis resistance
GenoMar developed the first commercial tilapia genotyping tool, a high-density SNP array. We revealed more than 2 million places in the tilapia genome where fish differ from each other at a single nucleotide (single nucleotide polymorphism or SNP) and selected ~ 60 000 of those SNPs to construct the first SNP array.
Resistance against streptococcosis was implemented as a goal in the GenoMar breeding program. Since then, routinely experimental challenge tests against S. agalactiae have been performed and formed the basis for selection of families and individuals with better survival.
EW GROUP acquires GenoMar
EW GROUP acquires 100% of the shares of GenoMar Genetics from Norway Fresh. EW GROUP is a strategic holding company based in Germany. The activities of EW GROUP are comprised of the business areas of poultry/turkey and aqua species breeding, as well as animal health, nutrition and diagnostics. EW GROUP operates 165 subsidiaries in 45 countries worldwide, employing over 15,000 team members.
Genomic selection started
Genomic selection was included in the breeding program. Several thousand animals are genotyped every year and genetic markers associated with favorable traits are used for selecting the best broodstock.
Compared with family-based selection, genomic selection is more precise, and provides enhanced genetic gains and cost efficacy since vast number of phenotypic tests of relatives becomes redundant.
30 years of tilapia breeding
30 generations of tilapia selection was performed in the nucleus.