Sunday, February 6, 2011
MSc Advanced Module 2- Broodstock and Genetic Management
The second Advanced Module was titled Broodstock and Genetic Management: this course centered on the creation of a selective breeding program. The students were placed into groups of three and each group was assigned a species: our group was responsible for designing a breeding program for European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).
With the exception of formal updates every few days, the entire two-week module was unstructured and we were free to focus on building our program. If we had any questions or needed any input, we went to go see any of the four professors who coordinated the course: Brendan McAndrew, Dave Penman, Herve Miguad, and Krishen Rana.
Selective breeding programs are used in most animal husbandry and culture industries: by selecting the best-performing fish for a given trait (such as growth rate, disease resistance, flesh consistency, etc.) and breeding them together, the offspring will (theoretically!) display some aspect of that trait. By doing this over several generations, each time selecting the best-performers to breed, the entire population begins to display the trait.
Our group was tasked with overcoming two specific challenges associated with European sea bass culture: the high proportion of males-to-females (males grow slower and are therefore not wanted in culture) and the slow growth of the fish in general. Because fast growth and femininity are correlated traits, we designed our breeding program to select for these.
This module was one of my favourites thus far: we did not work under the professor’s direct supervision, and in this way the course was very true to the real world. We were completely free to design something, take it to the experts, then go back and tweak it. In the end, we came up with a very successful and efficient program that could be implemented at a sea bass hatchery tomorrow!
The next module is Policy and Planning, another of the required modules for my ‘Business Management’ designation...