Quality and production trait genetics of farmed European whitefish Coregonus lavaretus

A. Kause, C.D. Quinton, S. Airaksinen, K. Ruohonen, J. Koskela

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We present here phenotypic and genetic parameters for the major quality and production traits of farmed European whitefish. A total of 70 families were produced by mating each of 45 sires to an average of 1.6 dams and each of the 52 dams to an average of 1.3 sires. A total of 2100 individuals were recorded for survival, and 507 individuals for growth and quality related traits. The four major results were: firstly, all traits exhibited non-zero heritabilities except for fillet gaping and fillet protein%. The heritabilities for the production traits were: harvest weight (0.42±0.10), gutted weight (0.40±0.10), fillet weight (0.36±0.09), maturity score (0.27±0.11, on liability scale), survival (0.19±0.05, on liability scale), carcass% (0.14±0.07), and fillet% (0.11±0.06). The heritabilities for the quality traits were: condition factor (0.49±0.10), fillet lipid% (0.37±0.10), muscle texture (0.30±0.09), Distell lipid reading (0.26±0.09), fillet lightness (0.16±0.07), fillet gaping (0.04±0.06), and fillet protein% (0.04±0.06). Secondly, the quality traits that were significantly genetically correlated with each other were all related to lipid deposition. Increasing fillet lipid% (an undesired change in whitefish) was genetically related to desired lighter fillet color (rG=0.70±0.22) and to undesired higher condition factor (0.39±0.17). None of the other genetic correlations between condition factor, fillet lipid%, muscle texture, fillet lightness, fillet gaping, and fillet protein% were significant. Thirdly, body and gutted weight were genetically related to the quality traits that were genetically related to lipid deposition. Increasing harvest weight was genetically related to high fillet lipid% (rG=0.59±0.14), lighter fillet color (0.61±0.25), and to higher condition factor (0.60±0.12). All other genetic correlations of harvest weights with the quality traits were non-significant, indicating that rapid growth was not genetically related to gaping and softer flesh. Fourthly, none of the genetic correlations of carcass%, fillet%, maturity and survival with the quality traits were significant, implying weak genetic integration between the traits. Yet, marginally significant genetic correlations were found for fillet lipid% with maturity score (rG=-0.46±0.24) and survival (0.36±0.19). These results provide the genetic basis for assessing the potential to improve product quality via selective breeding
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)959-971
JournalJournal of Animal Science
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


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  • salmon salmo-salar
  • tilapia oreochromis-niloticus
  • muscle lipid-content
  • large rainbow-trout
  • cod gadus-morhua
  • atlantic salmon
  • body-weight
  • skeletal deformations
  • proximate composition


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