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Contract Awarded for Atlantic Salmon Genome Sequencing

Atlantic salmon drawing (U.S. Fish and Wildife Service)

Atlantic salmon (U.S. Fish and Wildife Service)

An international business and scientific consortium from salmon-producing countries has awarded a contract for the second phase of sequencing and analysis of the Atlantic salmon genome to the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI) in Rockville, Maryland. The International Cooperation to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome (ICSASG) that awarded the contract is a partnership of five agencies in Norway, Canada, and Chile formed in 2009.

Under the contract, JCVI will sequence the salmon genome using advanced technologies, including assembly of DNA fragments to reconstruct the original genome sequence. The project is expected to generate a resource to help in the management of wild salmon stocks and the salmon aquaculture industry. It should also provide a reference genome for work with other species in the salmon family, known as salmonids, such as whitefish and trout.

The first phase of the project, awarded to Beckman Coulter Genomics, began production of a four-fold coverage of the genome using current sequencing techniques. The final assembled genome is expected to be placed on a genome browser, such as Ensembl.

According to the consortium, worldwide commercial salmon production exceeds one billion pounds annually, with about 70 percent from aquaculture salmon farms. Salmon and related species such as trout are considered early indicators of water quality, and are considered important markers for ecotoxicology studies.

“A fully assembled reference sequence available for researchers worldwide will have a major impact on research into salmon and other salmonids, such as rainbow trout,” says ICSASG chair Steinar Bergseth of the Research Council of Norway.

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