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Quantifying the genetic parameters of feed efficiency in juvenile Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus

Abstract : Background: Improving feed efficiency in fish is crucial at the economic, social and environmental levels with respect to developing a more sustainable aquaculture. The important contribution of genetic improvement to achieve this goal has been hampered by the lack of accurate basic information on the genetic parameters of feed efficiency in fish. We used video assessment of feed intake on individual fish reared in groups to estimate the genetic parameters of six growth traits, feed intake, feed conversion ratio (FCR) and residual feed intake in 40 pedigreed families of the GIFT strain of Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus. Feed intake and growth were measured on juvenile fish (22.4g mean body weight) during 13 consecutive meals, representing 7days of measurements. We used these data to estimate the FCR response to different selection criteria to assess the potential of genetics as a means of increasing FCR in tilapia. Results: Our results demonstrate genetic control for FCR in tilapia, with a heritability estimate of 0.320.11. Response to selection estimates showed FCR could be efficiently improved by selective breeding. Due to low genetic correlations, selection for growth traits would not improve FCR. However, weight loss at fasting has a high genetic correlation with FCR (0.80 +/- 0.25) and a moderate heritability (0.23), and could be an easy to measure and efficient criterion to improve FCR by selective breeding in tilapia. Conclusion: At this age, FCR is genetically determined in Nile tilapia. A selective breeding program could be possible and could help enabling the development of a more sustainable aquaculture production.
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Hugues de Verdal, Marc Vandeputte, Wagdy Mekkawy, Béatrice Chatain, John A. H. Benzie. Quantifying the genetic parameters of feed efficiency in juvenile Nile tilapia Oreochromis niloticus. BMC Genetics, BioMed Central, 2018, 19, pp.1-10. ⟨10.1186/s12863-018-0691-y⟩. ⟨hal-02623533⟩

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