What is selective breeding?

Table of Contents

Limited plant and animal resources and the ever-increasing world population have forced modern man to think of other ways to meet his food needs. Selective breeding is one of the methods used to improve the production and breeding of plants and animals. Selective breeding is a branch of genetics. It means the stabilization of genes that are effective in the economic breeding of living organisms.

The use of selective breeding in plants and animals has a long and successful history; a large percentage of plant and animal products are produced through selective breeding, but in the aquaculture industry, particularly shrimp farming, it has a short history and is a relatively new topic. Despite the genetic advances in aquatic animals compared to plants and animals, less than ten percent of aquatic animals are produced through selective breeding.

Aquaculture, as one of the major sources of protein consumed by the world’s population, is facing limitations. Increasing aquaculture production is one of the ways to overcome this limitation. One of the ways to increase production is through selective breeding.

The general goal of selective breeding is to identify and select organisms with superior genetic ability and use them as parents for the next generation.

In the early years of shrimp aquaculture, breeding programs were not booming and breeders felt little need to use them. At that time, only Brazil, the United States, and Venezuela used selective breeding. Gradually, shrimp producers around the world became interested in selective breeding due to the spread of disease and the need to improve efficiency.

Selective breeding programs have flourished in recent years because of their effectiveness in improving disease resistance, increasing production, and reducing dependence on wild sources.

In addition to economic efficiency, the use of selective breeding in aquaculture will enhance desirable traits. The most important farmed species in the world is the western white species (Vannamei). The important traits of Vannamei such as optimum weight, high growth rate, disease resistance, and adaptability can be targets of selective breeding.

One of the most important goals of shrimp selective breeding, which significantly impacts its economic production, is to create disease resistance and improve growth.

1- Selective breeding to improve disease resistance:

Disease has always been one of the major problems in shrimp farming. Every year, shrimp farmers all over the world suffer huge losses due to disease outbreaks. Dealing with diseases and controlling them during the breeding period is a difficult matter; therefore, using selective breeding to improve disease resistance is a wiser solution. Selective breeding programs have been conducted for disease resistance to Taura’s Syndrome Virus (TSV) and White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV). These are two common and dangerous diseases in shrimp farming. The results show the success of this program in creating resistance to Taura’s Syndrome Virus. The white spot situation is more challenging, but the results are promising.

The use of selective breeding for disease resistance is recommended in cases where the disease is causing a lot of damage and other disease control methods are not effective.

2- Selective breeding to improve shrimp growth:

Improving shrimp growth is considered an important goal for shrimp farmers because it leads to increased economic profit and sustainable production, as well as improved Food Conversion Ratio (FCR) and increased survival. Smaller shrimp are less resistant to pathogens and the selective breeding program will increase their survival by increasing their growth rate.

By improving the food conversion ratio, the breeder gets more profit.

Shrimp selective breeding methods for shrimp:

Shrimp selective breeding methods fall into two categories: traditional methods and modern methods.

Traditional methods are usually derived from animal and plant breeding methods. Modern shrimp breeding methods are based on molecular genetics and biotechnology.

Steps in the Implementation of the Selective Breeding Program

1- Initial population information: The first step in the implementation of the selective breeding program is the initial information of the target population. After the initial recognition, this stage determines which characteristics of the target population are important and should be considered.

2- Determination of selective objectives: In this step, the goal of the selective breeding program is determined. The objectives will vary depending on the target species and the economic and social conditions. Selective objectives mainly include important traits such as growth rate, weight, and disease resistance.

3- Define the selection criteria: Selection criteria can be different from average, genetic information, or breeding values.

4- Record the traits: In this step, the important traits of the species such as body weight and length, survival rate, and resistance rate are measured and recorded.

5- Evaluation and selection according to the desired traits: In this step, the shrimp are evaluated according to the desired criteria. Those shrimp that have the desired indicators are selected.

6- Mating of the selected shrimp: The shrimp selected in the previous step are mated with phenotypic or genotypic methods and a new generation is born.

7- Evaluation of the progress of the program, review, and modifications: Genetic progress is the main objective in the implementation of selective breeding programs. Evaluating the degree of genetic progress determines whether the desired program is working or not.

Selective breeding programs require a large amount of capital; however, the implementation of these programs plays an important role in the development of a sustainable shrimp aquaculture industry. In selective breeding programs, the length of the breeding period is reduced after several generations of breeding, resulting in a greater economic return. In addition, increasing disease resistance will reduce shrimp losses and increase production.

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