General news

Pacific oyster
10 June 2016

Breeding resilience

A collaborative research programme to breed oysters resilient to a virus that devastated the Pacific oyster industry is delivering results.

Scientists at Cawthron Institute, together with industry and research partners, have been working towards breeding Pacific oysters resilient to the ostreid herpes (OsHV-1) virus since it almost wiped out the country's Pacific oyster stocks in 2010.

“We’re working really hard as a team to help the industry recover and thrive into the future,” says Dr Serean Adams, Cawthron scientist and Cultured Shellfish Programme leader.

The latest cohort of oyster families bred from the programme were sent to field sites in the North Island in February to be challenged and exposed to the virus. Latest results from those trials show clear generational improvements.

“We can show that oyster virus resilience has increased with each cohort of oyster families produced from this programme.”

Dr Serean Adams, Cawthron scientist and Cultured Shellfish Programme leader

Alongside breeding for virus resilience, the scientists are also undertaking lab and field trials to compare the best and worst performing oysters from the programme to understand what influences survival.

“The results so far from this breeding programme are very encouraging and it is very satisfying to be at a stage now where we are providing the industry with seed from the top performing 2013 families, to be on-grown commercially.”

This research has been jointly funded by the Cawthron-led Cultured Shellfish Programme (funded by Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) and the Oyster Modernisation Project (funded by Ministry for Primary Industry’s Sustainable Farming Fund) as well as with support from industry partners.

Click here to find out more about our research on the oyster virus.