Genome-Wide Association and Genomic Selection for Resistance to Amoebic Gill Disease in Atlantic Salmon

Diego Robledo, Oswald Matika, Alastair Hamilton, Ross D. Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amoebic gill disease (AGD) is one of the largest threats to salmon aquaculture, causing serious economic and animal welfare burden. Treatments can be expensive and environmentally damaging, hence the need for alternative strategies. Breeding for disease resistance can contribute to prevention and control of AGD, providing long-term cumulative benefits in selected stocks. The use of genomic selection can expedite selection for disease resistance due to improved accuracy compared to pedigree-based approaches. The aim of this work was to quantify and characterise genetic variation in AGD resistance in salmon, the genetic architecture of the trait, and the potential of genomic selection to contribute to disease control. An AGD challenge was performed in ~1,500 Atlantic salmon, using gill damage and amoebic load as indicator traits for host resistance. Both traits are heritable (h2~ 0.25-0.30) and show high positive correlation, indicating they may be good measurements of host resistance to AGD. While the genetic architecture of resistance appeared to be largely polygenic in nature, two regions on chromosome 18 showed suggestive association with both AGD resistance traits. Using a cross-validation approach, genomic prediction accuracy was up to 18 % higher than that obtained using pedigree, and a reduction in marker density to ~2,000 SNPs was sufficient to obtain accuracies similar to those obtained using the whole dataset. This study indicates that resistance to AGD is a suitable trait for genomic selection, and the addition of this trait to Atlantic salmon breeding programs can lead to more resistant stocks.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberg3.200075.2018
Pages (from-to)1195–1203
JournalG3: Genes | Genomes | Genetics
Issue number4
Early online date2 Feb 2018
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2018


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