Saturday, October 3, 2020

Is Tilapia the Underwater Chicken?


According to this article, chickens have been bred for decades in distinct ways, and it seems like tilapia production is following in the chicken breeder’s footsteps. Just as chickens have been crossed to produce better eggs and meat, crossing distinct lines of tilapia has become a recent trend. Similarly, chickens have been bred for disease-resistance since the 1960s and because of the prevalent strains of disease present in tilapia (S. Iniae, S. agalactiae, Francisella, TiLV and columnaris), there has been a push to genetically improve tilapia by breeding only those with disease-resistance. An interesting concept that is being applied to both chickens and tilapia is genomic selection, which ultimately leads to genomic standardization. This includes analyzing the animals’ genomes in order to see if they are optimal for breeding and consuming, and since only those optimal animals are bred, the population becomes very similar in traits. Though having a “standardized” chicken or tilapia could potentially be good for the food industry, many people are concerned about conserving the original genome of the animals before humans started modifying them. In fact, many European species of chicken are considered extinct because the genome has changed so much from human modification. Many are concerned that this trend will also occur with tilapia if things continue as they are.

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