Genome British Columbia, the Pacific Salmon Foundation and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are embarking on a remarkable partnership to discover the microbes present in salmon in BC that may be undermining the productivity of BC’s Pacific salmon. The project will conduct epidemiological assessments to explore the transmission dynamics and historical presence of detected microbes, with key focus on microbes that are suspected globally to be causing disease in salmon. Researchers will apply genomic technology to identify and verify which microbes are presently carried by BC’s wild and cultured fish.
The project is being managed in four sequential Phases with Phase 1 valued at $930,000. The first phase is taking place over 12 months, concluding mid-2013, and comprises the collection phase of both cultured and wild salmon. While later phases are subject to final funding, Phase 2 involves rigorous analysis of the tissue samples collected in Phase 1 and in previous research. Using molecular and genomic tools, the research team will attempt to determine when and where microbes may have been transmitted. The research results will begin to rank microbes by their potential to cause disease in BC salmon based on relationships with microbes associated with disease in other parts of the world and histological evidence from salmon in BC. Phase 3 will focus in on the microbes identified in Phase 2, with an emphasis on microbes that have not been extensively researched and that are thought to be of pathological significance in salmon. Phase 4 will include reporting of research and presentations to management agencies on the potential utility of methods developed and the application of outcomes to future monitoring.