Growth of sole is sped up by selective breeding

Nov 11, 2010 By Robbert Blonk

Dutch doctoral researcher Robbert Blonk has found a way of speeding up the growth of North Sea sole considerably. This may make sole farming more viable.

Solea is the only company in the world farming sole. It was set up around breeding facilities established by IMARES in IJmuiden eight years ago, when it became apparent that sole had all but disappeared from the North Sea. It was not as simple as it seemed - Solea has recently gone bankrupt. But doctoral researcher Robbert Blonk, who has been testing at Solea in the past few years, is confident that it would be worth reviving the company. 'I would invest in Solea myself.'

Sole is difficult to farm. does not work, so the fish have to reproduce naturally in groups, using parent fish caught at sea. This way it takes on average two years for the sole to reach the target weight of 200 grams. That is too long and therefore too expensive.

Twenty percent more

Blonk wanted to speed up this growth by selecting the fastest-breeding sole, but he ran into obstacles here too. A showed that more than half the had come from just six parent fish. Blonk used to select parent fish that were genetically varied, and he also selected the fastest growing parent fish. In two years, this produced sole with a 20 percent higher average weight. In other words: with his selection method the sole reached their target weight in one and a half years instead of two. Blonk also looked into how far the growth of the sole was determined by heredity. It turned out that 25 percent of the growth rate was genetically determined. Another big factor is , as well as the conditions at the fish farm.

Blonk's breeding programme will not produce results in the short term. 'We selected the parents two years ago with this method. Sole reaches reproductive maturity only after four years. The initial results of the breeding programme can therefore only be expected in two years' time.' Blonk's research was funded by Dutch research organization NWO. He will received his PhD on 5 November and then set to work at IMARES.

Explore further: Big science from small insects

Provided by Wageningen University

4 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Intensive fishing leads to smaller fish

May 07, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Intensive fishery activities in the North Sea have resulted in evolutionary changes in fish. Fish remain smaller, grow slower and mature sexually earlier. This is postulated by Fabian Mollet, fishery researcher ...

Who's most likely to be swept away?

Dec 01, 2008

If you think the person most likely to be involved in an avalanche this winter will be a young hot-dogger who doesn't know any better, think again.

Gender-changing fish are studied

Apr 11, 2006

A University of New Hampshire scientist is trying to determine what causes sex reversals among black sea bass and how to prevent it.

EU sets fish quotas for 2007

Dec 22, 2006

The European Union fisheries ministers have set the 2007 limits for fish catches in European waters.

Recommended for you

Big science from small insects

35 minutes ago

Anniversaries are often a time to look back. But after taking stock of the past, it can be just as important to look to the future.

Dwindling wind may tip predator-prey balance

Sep 19, 2014

Bent and tossed by the wind, a field of soybean plants presents a challenge for an Asian lady beetle on the hunt for aphids. But what if the air—and the soybeans—were still?

Asian stars enlisted to fight African rhino poaching

Sep 19, 2014

Increasingly desperate South African conversationists are turning to a multi-national team of "rhino ambassadors" to try to end the scourge of poaching—and Vietnamese pop diva Hong Nhung has been recruited ...

Tropical fish a threat to Mediterranean Sea ecosystems

Sep 18, 2014

The tropical rabbitfish which have devastated algal forests in the eastern Mediterranean Sea pose a major threat to the entire Mediterranean basin if their distribution continues to expand as the climate ...

User comments : 0