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Benchmark Holdings Plc - Genetics Breakthrough in Tilapia

Benchmark, the aquaculture health, nutrition and genetics business, is pleased to announce a significant discovery to increase genetic resistance to Streptococcus iniae infections in tiliapia, one of the biggest challenges in the aquaculture industry.


Benchmark's team of geneticists have identified a significant quantitative trait locus (QTL), a small section of DNA, which is linked to increased levels of resistance to Streptococcus iniae.  The Company has made a patent application in respect of this discovery.


The identified QTL will be used for commercial production of tilapia fry marking the first time that a significant QTL for disease resistance is used in commercial breeding of tilapia.


Tilapia is the world's second most farmed fish with 6.3 million tonnes of production in 2018 (estimated commercial value of £6.6 bn) and is growing at c. 5% CAGR (2017 - 2022) according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation.


Following this discovery, Benchmark's tilapia  broodstock are selected both for improved resistance to Streptococcus agalactiae using genomic selection, and to Streptococcus iniae using the identified QTL in marker-assisted selection.


Malcolm Pye, CEO Benchmark commented: 


"This is a major step forward for the tilapia industry. It is the result of Benchmark's many years of investment and commitment to bringing state-of-the-art breeding technology to this important farmed species.


"We believe that this breakthrough will allow the industry to expand production of this cost effective, high-quality, protein source to meet global demand for protein. We have seen first hand how devastating Streptococcus is to the industry and with the introduction of this new technology we can drive improvements in sustainability and profitability for our customers."