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Achievement: College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Helping Fish Grow Faster

Dr. Craig Sullivan is a zoology professor.

Dr. Craig Sullivan is working to develop selective breeding of striped and white bass to support a growing hybrid striped bass aquaculture industry.

Aquaculture with hybrid striped bass, an industry pioneered at North Carolina State University, got off to a fast start in the 1980s. Hybrid striped bass farming increased by more than 600 percent from 1988 to 1993, making this one of the fastest growing segments of North Carolina and U.S. aquaculture. But growth has slowed in recent years, in large measure due to high production costs. Marketing experts believe this industry can once again enjoy explosive growth if production costs can be trimmed. An effective method of reducing costs is selective breeding that produces faster growth rates. It is likely that hybrid striped bass production costs can be reduced by 12 percent if growth rates can be increased by 20 percent through selective breeding. Such gains in growth seem realistic; theyíve already been achieved with species such as salmon, trout and catfish. NC State researchers have already taken the first step toward selective breeding by domesticating striped bass and white bass, the parental species used to produce hybrid striped bass. These domesticated fish produce hybrid striped bass with fecundity, fertility and yields of fry and fingerlings equivalent to those obtained using mature, wild broodfish captured on or near their spawning grounds. Scientists in Dr. Craig Sullivanís laboratory are now using the latest genomic techniques to probe the genetic makeup of striped bass and white bass and selectively breed the fish to produce hybrid striped bass that grow faster. Dr. Sullivanís lab is the only one in the world doing this level of selective breeding of temperate bass.

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