AQUA-FAANG will create an internationally leading consortium for excellence and innovation in fish genomics. The cluster of world experts from both academia and industry, combined with extensive training and dissemination activities, will create a long-term interactive hub expected to outlast the duration of the project. This hub aims to be world-leading within basic genome biology research targeting aquaculture fish species, and for applied research targeted towards tackling industry and stakeholder issues of importance for sustainable industry expansions.
Short to medium term impact
- AQUA-FAANG will deliver comprehensive high-quality genome functional annotation maps for the six most economically important fish species in European aquaculture, providing insight into variation across tissues, lifestages and experimental conditions using a range of core FAANG functional annotation assays
- Pave the way for subsequent use of annotated genomes to improve precision breeding in farmed animal production, by linking genome to phenotype and improving means to measure/record phenotypes.
- The project will test and optimize approaches for prioritizing functional variations in QTL regions across several species, and harness those variants to improve genomic selection.
- The project will deliver a computational pipeline that academic and commercial researchers can use to prioritize functional variants in candidate regions of the genome (e.g. QTL/GWAS regions) which will facilitate direct exploitation of functional annotation datasets for marker assisted and genomic selection application.
- The project will develop novel approaches to characterize and measure immune cell heterogeneity in fishes defining immune cellular phenotypes at an unprecedented level of accuracy, which can be used in the future to improve precision breeding by enhancing the information-content in recorded phenotypes in terms of host defence mechanisms responsible for disease resistance.
- Progress in understanding genotype per environment interactions and deciphering the mechanisms by which some effects induced by environment/stressors can be transmitted across generations
- AQUA-FAANG will contribute strongly to international coordinated actions aiming to achieve standardized genome functional annotation in domesticated animals and fishes.
In the long-term, activities will enhance the sustainability of farmed animal production
- A key long-term impact of AQUA-FAANG will be the project’s contribution towards enhanced disease resistance in each of the main farmed fish species in Europe.
- The data and analyses produced by the project will enable and enhance follow-on research in a number of key areas of relevance to sustainable European aquaculture
Other impacts (not mentioned in the Work programme)
- The AQUA-FAANG project will generate and freely disseminate robust functional annotation pipelines that can be readily applied in other farmed fish species (WP1, WP2) to enable annotation of other key aquaculture species of global importance not studied in AQUA-FAANG (e.g. tilapia, oyster).
- AQUA-FAANG will provide critical information to inform studies on the functional basis for adaptation and phenotypic differences in wild fish populations, which has great importance for understanding the role of fish in natural ecosystems, as well as the basis of domestication, and genetic interactions between wild and farmed fish stocks.
- The selection of the six farmed species used in AQUA-FAANG was partly based on existing complementary research and resources developed for these same species during past/ongoing research including major EU-projects, which will bring extensive opportunities for co-enhancement of project findings and innovation capacity.
- By developing methodology for designing low density SNP panels enriched with functional markers (WP5, D5.4) AQUA-FAANG will help deliver genomic selection at lower cost points, making advanced selection techniques more affordable to the hundreds of smaller producers across Europe including those farming species outside the ‘top six’ including perch, pike-perch, meagre, red sea bream and amberjack.
- The involvement of several commercial genetics companies in the AQUA-FAANG consortium also provides a means of rapidly disseminating any technical advances to their respective customer bases across Europe thereby increasing the relevance of the project to the largest possible number of producers.
- Planned staff exchanges between academic institutes and the industrial partners working on common tasks will facilitate knowledge exchange in both directions and help build a cross-sector community of basic and applied scientists aiming to advance selective breeding technologies in aquaculture species.
- Another long-term benefit arising from the project will be the development of robust and benchmarked genome functional annotation approaches that can be readily applied to species of fish currently being taken-up as new candidates for aquaculture in Europe.