Genetic parameters for resistance to Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) in Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus)

Agustin Barria Gonzalez, Trong Quoc Trinh, Mahirah Mahmuddin, John Benzie, V. Mohan Chadag, Ross Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) is one of the primary disease concerns for tilapia farming, with mass mortality events and biosecurity restrictions threating aquaculture in several continents. Selective breeding for improved host resistance to TiLV may help to mitigate this problematic disease, but the extent of genetic variation in resistance is not yet known. The objective of the current study was to estimate genetic parameters for host resistance to TiLV in a Nile tilapia breeding population of the Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT) strain. Using data from 1821 pedigreed fish (from 124 full-sibling families) collected during and after a pond ‘field’ outbreak, resistance was defined using both binary survival (BS) and days to death (TD) traits. Animal and sire-dam linear mixed models were fitted for BS and TD, and BS was also evaluated with using two sire-dam threshold models with either probit (Pro-SD) or logit-link (Log-SD) functions. Cumulative mortality was 39.6% at the end of the outbreak, with family survival rates ranging from 0 to 100%. Moderate to high heritability values were estimated for resistance to TiLV using all models. Significant heritabilities were estimated on the binary scale (0.40 for both animal and sire-dam models) which equates to 0.63 on the underlying liability scale. Using threshold models, heritabilities of 0.56 and 0.48 were estimated for Pro-SD and Log-SD, respectively. Correlation among the full-sib families EBVs predicted by the different models ranged from 0.912 to 0.999, suggesting a low re-ranking of the families and a high consistency of the results obtained using the different models. In addition, significant and moderate heritability of 0.41 (0.06) was estimated for harvest weight (HW), and the genetic correlation between this trait and resistance to TILV was not statistically different from zero. These results demonstrate that host resistance to TiLV is highly heritable in a Nile tilapia breeding population with GIFT origin. Therefore, selective breeding to increase resistance and reduce mortalities due to TiLV is a feasible and promising approach
Original languageEnglish
Early online date15 Feb 2020
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2020


  • Aquaculture
  • Tilapia Lake virus
  • Nile tilapia
  • Disease resistance
  • Heritability
  • Selective breeding
  • GIFT

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