Aquaculture is one of the world’s fastest growing industries. Fundamental research on reproduction, genetics, aquatic animal health and welfare, nutrition, production systems, environments, markets, and social and economic impacts all play a significant role in Scotland’s aquaculture industry.

The  Roslin Institute and Hendrix Genetics, a global leader in animal breeding, have established a research agreement to improve the sustainability of animal production.


Scotland’s aquaculture industry is worth approximately £1.86 billion annually, with the country ranking third in the world for salmon production which generates around £800 million every year. Salmon farming is by far the most valuable component of Scotland’s aquaculture industry and Scottish researchers provide one of the highest concentrations of aquaculture expertise in Europe.

The industry will face many challenges over the next few years to be economically, socially and environmentally sustainable. Health and disease management is one of the most important challenges limiting aquaculture’s growth and, ultimately, its role in feeding a growing global population. As global seafood consumption increases, producing the volumes necessary to maintain supply is a big concern in aquaculture together with quality, food safety and traceability.

Aquaculture Genetics Research Facility (AGRF) 

The Aquaculture Genetics Research Facility (AGRF) is a newly-built freshwater aquarium facility at Easter Bush Campus, designed for research into early-life stages of farmed fish species.

The AGRF is set up with a hatchery and grow out room, and a disease challenge room. There are three separate recirculating aquaculture systems to provide suitable water quality conditions for the fish. The AGRF was funded by Agri-Epi and BBSRC and has been built to support the ongoing research into disease resistance and genome editing of farmed fish, in particular salmonids. The rooms and systems are set up to allow for research into both cold and warm water fish. 

Collaboration Opportunities in Midlothian

Midlothian researchers are focussed on driving innovations that lead to greater disease resistance in farmed animals and better selective breeding programmes with the goal to reduce losses and improve welfare in the fish farming and livestock industries.

A strategic partnership between The Roslin Institute and Hendrix Genetics strengthens and extends their relationship, built on existing collaborations in salmon disease genetics. It allows the organisations to explore precision breeding technology, not only in Aquaculture, but also in pig, chicken and turkey breeding.

The Roslin Institute works closely with the salmon breeding company Landcatch, a  company based in Ormsary in Argyll, Scotland with office space at Roslin Innovation Centre.

This collaboration has yielded the discovery of a gene that makes salmon more resilient to a viral disease. It has also led to the development of genetic tools that have improved selective breeding for resistance to sea lice.

Scientists at the Universities of Stirling and Glasgow, as well as the University of Edinburgh’s sequencing facility Edinburgh Genomics, were part of the research team that led to these discoveries.

 “Our partnership with Roslin – a world leading research institute - offers a unique opportunity to improve our breeding programs through applied research projects using the latest genomic technology.”

Dr Johan van Arendonk, Chief Innovation and Technology Officer at Hendrix Genetics

“We are excited about building on our long-term relationship with Landcatch through establishing this strategic partnership. Working with Hendrix Genetics across a number of commercial species offers exciting opportunities for the science that Roslin pioneers.”

Professor Bruce Whitelaw, Deputy Director and Head of the Division of Developmental Biology at The Roslin Institute 

Benchmark Animal Health, located at Edinburgh Technopole, is a division of Benchmark Holdings, a market leader in the supply of applied biotechnology, sustainability science and knowledge transfer to animal health, aquaculture & agriculture and the food supply chain. 

Benchmark Animal Health develop and supply health products and treatment systems to the livestock, companion animal and aquaculture sectors to help prevent and treat diseases and drive improvements to animal health, build resilience and establish immunity. 

The product development team work alongside commercial agriculture and aquaculture experts to identify the priority disease challenges facing our partners and clients, and deliver products that are considered, practical and efficacious. 

For over a decade, Benchmark has been working to develop alternative health solutions to reduce humanity’s reliance on antibiotics. By focussing on vaccine development and defining best-practice protocols for disease control, their treatment systems aim to reduce antibiotic dependence. 

Moredun Scientific, on Pentlands Science Park and part of The Moredun Group, has established a new area of contract research services to support the development of fish health products for the aquaculture sector, working with pharmaceutical companies and other organisations to conduct efficacy and safety studies in a range of aquaculture species.

The focus is on salmon, trout, cleaner-fish and cold water marine species with studies on warm water fish and shellfish also possible.

Moredun Scientific have access to both freshwater and seawater aquaculture facilities in order to undertake and complete studies to the satisfaction of the appropriate regulatory authorities. The variety of different tank sizes enables them to conduct a range of different study types in line with client requirements.

The team are supported by the Moredun Research Institute’s aquaculture scientists who provide consultancy and specialist services as required.




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