Surrogate broodstock to enhance biotechnology research and applications in aquaculture

Ye Hwa Jin, Diego Robledo, John Hickey, Mike McGrew, Ross Houston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquaculture is playing an increasingly important role in meeting global demands for seafood, particularly in low and middle income countries. Genetic improvement of aquaculture species has major untapped potential to help achieve this, with selective breeding and genome editing offering exciting avenues to expedite this process. However, limitations to these breeding and editing approaches include long generation intervals of many fish species, alongside both technical and regulatory barriers to the application of genome editing in commercial production. Surrogate broodstock technology facilitates the production of donor-derived gametes in surrogate parents, and comprises transplantation of germ cells of donors into sterilised recipients. There are many successful examples of intra- and inter-species germ cell transfer and production of viable offspring in finfish, and this leads to new opportunities to address the aforementioned limitations. Firstly, surrogate broodstock technology raises the opportunity to improve genome editing via the use of cultured germ cells, to reduce mosaicism and potentially enable in vivo CRISPR screens in the progeny of surrogate parents. Secondly, the technology has pertinent applications in preservation of aquatic genetic resources, and in facilitating breeding of high-value species which are otherwise difficult to rear in captivity. Thirdly, it holds potential to drastically reduce the effective generation interval in aquaculture breeding programmes, expediting the rate of genetic gain. Finally, it provides new opportunities for dissemination of tailored, potentially genome edited, production animals of high genetic merit for farming. This review focuses on the state-of-the-art of surrogate broodstock technology, and discusses the next steps for its applications in research and production. The integration and synergy of genomics, genome editing, and reproductive technologies have exceptional potential to expedite genetic gain in aquaculture species in the coming decades.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107756
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Early online date22 Apr 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Apr 2021


  • Aquaculture
  • Aquatic genetic resources
  • Breeding
  • Fish farming
  • Genome editing
  • Genomic selection
  • Germ cells
  • Sterilisation
  • Surrogate broodstock


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