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Virginia Institute of Marine Science

Aquaculture Genetics & Breeding Technology

The scientists of the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center (ABC) at VIMS use a combination of selective breeding and genetic research to domesticate the native Eastern oyster Crassostrea virginica for aquaculture. C. virginica is important both commercially and ecologically in Chesapeake Bay.

ABC's goal is to help revitalize the economic value of oysters in the Bay, and to improve their value for farming to help the aquaculture industry meet humanity's growing appetite for seafood. ABC was established at VIMS in 1997. Read more about ABC's history and mission.

The focus of ABC's efforts is to provide genetically superior brood stock to industry. Initial efforts emphasized development of disease-tolerant strains of C. virginica, whose population in Chesapeake Bay has been devastated by the diseases MSX and Dermo. Current efforts emphasize improvement of other production traits, such as growth and meat yield. Knowledge of oyster genetics also sheds light on the genetics of other shellfish.

Principle Investigator Dr. Standish K. Allen, Jr.