Growth of sole is sped up by selective breeding

November 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: Intensive fishing leads to smaller fish

Related Stories

Intensive fishing leads to smaller fish

May 7, 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?

December 1, 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

April 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

December 22, 2006

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

Recommended for you

Knowledge gap on the origin of sex

May 26, 2017

There are significant gaps in our knowledge on the evolution of sex, according to a research review on sex chromosomes from Lund University in Sweden. Even after more than a century of study, researchers do not know enough ...

The high cost of communication among social bees

May 26, 2017

(Phys.org)—Eusocial insects are predominantly dependent on chemosensory communication to coordinate social organization and define group membership. As the social complexity of a species increases, individual members require ...

Why communication is vital—even among plants and funghi

May 26, 2017

Plant scientists at the University of Cambridge have found a plant protein indispensable for communication early in the formation of symbiosis - the mutually beneficial relationship between plants and fungi. Symbiosis significantly ...

Darwin was right: Females prefer sex with good listeners

May 26, 2017

Almost 150 years after Charles Darwin first proposed a little-known prediction from his theory of sexual selection, researchers have found that male moths with larger antennae are better at detecting female signals.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.