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Breeding salmonids for feed efficiency in current fishmeal and future plant-based diet environments

  • 1Email author,
  • 1,
  • 2 and
  • 3
Genetics Selection Evolution200739:431

  • Received: 9 November 2006
  • Accepted: 20 January 2007
  • Published:


The aquaculture industry is increasingly replacing fishmeal in feeds for carnivorous fish with soybean meal (SBM). This diet change presents a potential for genotype-environment (G × E) interactions. We tested whether current salmonid breeding programmes that evaluate and select within fishmeal diets also improve growth and efficiency on potential future SBM diets. A total of 1680 European whitefish from 70 families were reared with either fishmeal- or SBM-based diets in a split-family design. Individual daily gain (DG), daily feed intake (DFI) and feed efficiency (FE) were recorded. Traits displayed only weak G × E interactions as variances and heritabilities did not differ substantially between the diets, and cross-diet genetic correlations were near unity. In both diets, DFI exhibited moderate heritability and had very high genetic correlation with DG whereas FE had low heritability. Predicted genetic responses demonstrated that selection to increase DG and FE on the fishmeal diet lead to favourable responses on the SBM diet. Selection for FE based on an index including DG and DFI achieved at least double FE gain versus selection on DG alone. Therefore, current breeding programmes are improving the biological ability of salmonids to use novel plant-based diets, and aiding the aquaculture industry to reduce fishmeal use.


  • feed efficiency
  • genotype-environment interaction
  • selection
  • aquaculture
  • Coregonus lavaretus

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Authors’ Affiliations

MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Biotechnology and Food Research, Biometrical Genetics, 31600 Jokioinen, Finland
Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute Jyväskylä, Survontie 9, 40500 Jyväskylä, Finland
Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Tervo Fisheries Research and Aquaculture, 72210 Tervo, Finland


© INRA, EDP Sciences 2007