About the Program

Salmonids

The salmonids comprise eleven genera that include salmon, trout, charr, freshwater whitefishes, ciscos and graylings. Many salmonid species are of considerable economic, social and environmental importance. Salmonids contribute to local and global economies through aquaculture, wild stock fisheries and recreational sport fisheries. In addition, they are a traditional food source for aboriginal peoples in Canada and play a central role in their culture. Salmon and trout are sentinel species for monitoring the aquatic environment, and therefore they are used extensively for eco-toxicology studies. As a result of human activities related to the rearing of salmon and trout and the need to make management decisions concerning stock assessment and harvesting plans, there is a large salmonid research community working on the biology, life histories, population dynamics, biogeography, phylogenetic relationships, physiology and nutrition of salmonids. No other species group of fishes receives such comprehensive commercial and scientific attention. There is thus a large and diverse scientific community working and publishing in the field of salmonid biology and genomics.

Genomic projects and programs

The increasing interest in making use of genomics tools for salmonid research and development is reflected by the considerable accumulation of genomic resources for Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout in the first decade of the 21st century. The Norwegian Salmon Genome Project and the Canadian Genomics Research on Atlantic Salmon Project (GRASP) allowed great progress to be made, but it was evident to the participants that even more could be achieved if they pooled resources and worked together. This was the basis for forming cGRASP: the Consortium for Genomics Research on All Salmonids Project, which brought together salmonid genomics teams from Canada, Norway, Scotland and the USA. In 2005 the need for a scientific organizational body to coordinate genome research efforts and ensure that existing and upcoming resources were made accessible worldwide was recognized by the international salmonid research community. At a workshop held on October 25-26, 2005 at the Norwegian University for Life Sciences in ├ůs, Norway, the Consortium for Genomic Research on All Salmonids Program (cGRASP) was formed with the intention that this would become the international collaborative structure for establishing and maintaining salmonid genomic resources. (link to jpg picture)

A follow-up meeting held on October 10-12, 2006 at Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, Canada, attracted representatives of the salmonid research community from 17 countries. These researchers identified very clearly that there was a need for at least one high quality, whole genome salmonid reference sequence to make optimal use of genomics tools within salmonid research. (link to jpg picture) At a meeting in Quebec city in 2008 representatives of funding agencies from British Columbia, Norway and Chile resolved to work together to sequence the Atlantic salmon genome, and in April 2009 in Santiago, Chile the International Collaboration to Sequence the Atlantic Salmon Genome (ICSASG) was formally established. (link to jpg picture)

The ICSASG raised sufficient funds to cover the cost of sequencing, assembling and annotating the Atlantic salmon genome, and Phase 1 of the project commenced on January 1, 2010. (link)

Background document