Biotek 2021 Research Grant Awarded to CEES Research Team

40 million Norwegian kroner over the next four years to go to the 'Aqua Genome' project.

From Left to Right: Paul Berg, Lex Nederbragt, Bastiaan Star, Sissel Jentoft, Kjetill Jakobsen and Asbjørn Vøllestad.

The Norwegian Research Council (RCN) announced last week the five projects that were funded through the new BioTek2012-programme - and the CEES' application headed by Kjetill Jakobsen was one of the selected projects.

The research team that will lead the project from CEES includes Kjetill Jakobsen, Asbjørn Vøllestad, Sissel Jentoft, Bastiaan Star, Lex Nederbragt and Paul Berg.

The project is a national initiative and the overall aim of The 'Aqua Genome' project is to take the skills and expertise gained from the sequencing of genomes from the Atlantic cod (by the Norwegian Sequencing Centre at CEES) and Atlantic salmon (by CIGENE) to further our understanding of the genetic basis of phenotypic variation in key traits in these two species and explore how their genomes influenced by artificial selection and adaptation to changing climates and environments.

The consortium partners are Sigbjørn Lien, Dag Våge, and Matthew Kent at Centre for Integrative Genetics (CIGENE) in the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (UMB); Øivind Andersen, Marit Seppola and Matthew Baranski at the food research inisitute (Nofima); and Thomas Moen, and Nina Santi at Aqua Gen AS. See the bottom of the page for a list of collaborators.

1000 Genomes

The initial undertaking of the project will be to follow in the footsteps of the 1000 Genomes Project by sequencing 1000 salmon genomes and 1000 cod genomes from a variety of locations and from individuals with a wide variety of traits to provide a deep catalog of genetic variation in these species. This will establish the foundation for investigating relationships between genotype and phenotype to benefit efficient aquaculture breeding and production as well as to elucidate evolutionary and adaptive mechanisms in these species.

Genomic architecture

The genomes catalog will allow the team to then move forward with in depth analyses into the genomic architecture underlying economically important traits for salmon and cod aquaculture. Together with the consortium partners, they hope to explore and understand the physiology of the phenotype and to develop commercial products for drug treatment or artificial selection. Such advances may drastically improve the health and well being for aquaculture-grown salmon and cod.

Selection forces and landscape genomics

With such a large database of genomes, the team will also be able to explore key evolutionary questions underlying these species' natural variation. They hope to better the understanding of the following:

  1. The evolutionary processes influencing the variation across genomes.
  2. Specific functional genetic changes involved in local adaptation.
  3. The extent of ‘whole-genome’ divergence between populations.
  4. The strength or force of selection in natural populations.

This information will be of fundamental importance for further development of conservation genetics and management programs as well as identification of unique genetic traits of significance for aquaculture.

Epigenetics and phenotypic plasticity

Phenotypic plasticity and epigenetics are the frontline of scientific enquiry. This project will enable the characterization of genome-wide gene expression profiles and epigenetic patterns that will ultimately deliver major insights into the biological understanding of the impact of the short- and long term effects of incubation temperature at early life stages in Atlantic salmon and cod.


The three projects involving the genome databases will be brought together and integrated into a functional genomics project which will establish a repertoire of generic, functional tests that can be applied to different traits in the two species.

Overall, the project hopes to help in the improved efficiency of farmed salmon and cod, which will result in healthier animals and reduce the use of medicine in aquaculture. The ecological and evolutionary science resulting from this project will fundamentally change our understanding of salmon and cod evolution and development.

Follow CEES and NSC for ongoing details.


Norwegian collaborators:

  • University Center for Information Technology at UiO
  • ELIXIR.NO that partners UiO and UMB together with 4 other national universities.
  • Halvor Knutsen and Esben Moland Olsen from IMR (Flødevigen)
  • Kjetil Hindar (NINA)

International collaborators:

  • Ken Dewar, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
  • Pacific Biosciences
  • Ian Bradbury, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), Canada,
  • Christophe Pampoulie, Marine Research Institute, Reykjavik, Island
  • Carl Andre, Univ. of Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • Walter Salzburger, Univ. of Basel, Switzerland.
  • cGRASP project
    • Prof. Ben Koop, Univ. of Victoria, Canada
    • Prof. Willie Davidson, Simon Fraser Univ., Canada.

The steering group

  • Leif Andersson (Univ. of Uppsala);
  • Michael Purugganan (New York University);
  • Jonas Korlach (Pacific Biosciences, USA);
  • Kerstin Lindblad-Toh (Broad Institute, MIT);
  • Inger Sandlie (Centre for Immune Regulation, Univ of Oslo)
  • Eivind Hovig (Inst of Informatics, Univ of Oslo)
  • Steinar Johansen (Univ. of Tromsø)
  • Arnfinn Aunsmo (SalMar ASA)
  • Tage Thorstensen (Inven2).


Published Oct. 22, 2012 12:00 PM - Last modified Oct. 5, 2018 2:55 PM