In 2007 the National Institute of Water and Atmospheric Research in New Zealand initiated a family-based selective breeding programme for the New Zealand Abalone, Haliotis iris, with commercial partner OceaNZ Blue Ltd. to investigate the genetics of key performance traits in a cold water and a warm water site and the influence of the early rearing environment on family performance. A total of 101 Abalone families were established using farmed and wild broodstock from multiple locations around New Zealand. Families were reared separately for nine to 14 months prior to tagging at ~15-20 mm shell length and then combined. Families were also pooled during early rearing, up to seven days post-fertilisation and later genotyped. This allowed estimation of individual tank environment effects on family performance. Length, weight and growth rate have been recorded bi-annually plus evaluation of quality traits such as foot darkness and shell colour at a market size of ~80 mm. Relative family performance has generally been consistent across sites, but is moderately influenced by early environment. The growth traits were found to be highly heritable with high genetic correlations among traits indicating good response to selection for increased growth can be expected.
Proceedings of the New Zealand Society of Animal Production, Volume 72, Christchurch, 216-221, 2012
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