Important legal notice
Contact   |   Search on EUROPA   
Fisheries and Aquaculture
Fisheries and Aquaculture - Towards sustainable development of fishing and aquaculture activities
"To optimise the economic performance of the aquaculture sector through genetically targeted selective breeding of healthier stock."

The problem

Many farmed fish and shellfish are vulnerable to disease, infection and poor performance from physiological stress. These factors have a significant effect on the economic performance of the fish-farming sector, which would be improved if the risk of disease and stress could be reduced through targeted, selective breeding. The intention is to use sea bream, sea bass, oyster and rainbow trout to identify genes associated with disease and stress resistance. Their characteristics will be used as identifiers (markers) for selective breeding of disease and/or stress-resistant individuals.

AQUAFIRST  Key genetic characteristics to improve selective fish breeding for disease resistance


AQUAFIRST seeks to identify genes associated with stress and disease resistance in fish and molluscs to provide a physiological and genetic basis for marker-assisted selective breeding. It builds on earlier EU funded projects: BRIDGEMAP, BASSMAP and STRESSGENES. To counter poor growth performance, impaired reproduction and increased susceptibility to disease, growers have increasingly used antibiotics and drugs. The development of selective breeding programmes using genetic markers offers a means to reduce, if not eliminate, the use of antibiotics.

Contribution to policy development:

  • The project will help in attaining aquaculture objectives within the Common Fisheries Policy by establishing a healthier and more economically competitive aquaculture sector
  • The development of ‘targeted’ selective breeding methods will reduce the need for antibiotics and help the EU meet targets for reducing residues in foodstuffs and the environment
  • An aquaculture sector that relies on selective breeding rather than pharmaceutical intervention will reduce public reservations towards a key sector of the European seafood industry

Project deliverables

  • Training course for gene micro-array analysis – August 2005
  • Progress reports – November 2005, November 2006, May 2008
  • Identification of parts of the genome that affect stress response or disease resistance in the four species – May 2008
  • Outline operational genetic protocols for alternative breeding schemes – May 2008
  • Final project meeting, report and exploitation plan – May 2008


  • Publish newsletters – February 2005, May & November 2006
  • Launch website – February 2005
  • Publish results in newsletters, scientific literature, trade press and on website – ongoing

Technical information

Project acronym: AQUAFIRST
Project’s official full title: Combined genetic and functional genomic approaches for stress and disease resistance marker-assisted selection in fish and shellfish 
Research priority: 1.3 Modernisation and sustainability of fisheries, including aquaculture-based production systems
Specific webpage: Details not yet available
Proposal/contract no: 513692
Start date: 1 November 2004
Kick off meeting: December 2004
Completion date: 1 June 2008
European Commission scientific officer: Mario Lopes dos Santos (

Name: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Abbreviated name: INRA-Rennes
Address: INRA
Station commune de recherches en ichtyophysiologie
Biodiversité et Environnement, Équipe physiologie de l'adaptation et du stress
Campus de Beaulieu
35042 Rennes Cedex
Country: France  


Name: Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique
Abbreviated name: INRA-CRJJ
Country: France

Name: University of Aberdeen
Abbreviated name: UNIABDN
Country: United Kingdom

Name: Natural Environment Research Council
Abbreviated name: NERC
Country: United Kingdom         

Name: Uppsala University
Abbreviated name: UPPSALA
Country: Sweden 

Name: Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer
Abbreviated name: IFREMER Tremblade
Country: France 

Name: Institut Français de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la mer
Abbreviated name: IFREMER Brest
Country: France 

Name: Consejo Superior De Investigaciones Cientificas
Abbreviated name: CSIC
Country: Spain   

Name: Tesorería de la Comunidad Autónoma de Canarias
Abbreviated name: ICCM
Country: Spain   

Name: Wageningen University
Abbreviated name: WAGENINGEN
Country: Netherlands

Name: National University of Ireland, Galway
Abbreviated name: NUIG
Country: Ireland

Name: Plymouth Marine Laboratory
Abbreviated name: PML
Country: United Kingdom         

Name: Centro de Ciencias do Mar do Algarve
Abbreviated name: CCMAR
Country: Portugal           

Name: K.U. Leuven Research & Development
Abbreviated name: KULeuven
Country: Belgium           

Name: Hellenic Centre for Marine Research
Abbreviated name: HCMR
Country: Greece

Name: Università degli studi di Padova
Abbreviated name: UNIPD
Country: Italy 

Name: Università degli studi di Padova
Abbreviated name: BIOLUNIPD
Country: Italy 

Name: Roslin Institute (Edinburgh) LTD
Abbreviated name: ROSLIN
Country: United Kingdom         

Name: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique
Abbreviated name: CNRS
Country: France 

Name: Nireus Chios Aquaculture SA
Abbreviated name: Nireus
Country: Greece