SALARECON connects the Atlantic salmon genome to growth and feed efficiency

Maksim Zakhartsev, Filip Rotnes, Marie Gulla, Ove Øyås, Jesse C.J. van Dam, Maria Suarez-Diez, Fabian Grammes, Róbert Anton Hafþórsson, Wout van Helvoirt, Jasper J. Koehorst, Peter J. Schaap, Yang Jin, Liv Torunn Mydland, Arne B. Gjuvsland, Simen R. Sandve, Vitor A.P. Martins dos Santos, Jon Olav Vik*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is the most valuable farmed fish globally and there is much interest in optimizing its genetics and rearing conditions for growth and feed efficiency. Marine feed ingredients must be replaced to meet global demand, with challenges for fish health and sustainability. Metabolic models can address this by connecting genomes to metabolism, which converts nutrients in the feed to energy and biomass, but such models are currently not available for major aquaculture species such as salmon. We present SALARECON, a model focusing on energy, amino acid, and nucleotide metabolism that links the Atlantic salmon genome to metabolic fluxes and growth. It performs well in standardized tests and captures expected metabolic (in)capabilities. We show that it can explain observed hypoxic growth in terms of metabolic fluxes and apply it to aquaculture by simulating growth with commercial feed ingredients. Predicted limiting amino acids and feed efficiencies agree with data, and the model suggests that marine feed efficiency can be achieved by supplementing a few amino acids to plant- and insect-based feeds. SALARECON is a high-quality model that makes it possible to simulate Atlantic salmon metabolism and growth. It can be used to explain Atlantic salmon physiology and address key challenges in aquaculture such as development of sustainable feeds.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010194
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022


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