1st Page



This article in JAS

  1. Vol. 89 No. 4, p. 959-971
    Received: Mar 13, 2010
    Accepted: Nov 11, 2010
    Published: December 4, 2014

    2 Corresponding author(s):


Quality and production trait genetics of farmed European whitefish, Coregonus lavaretus1

  1. A. Kause 23,
  2. C. Quinton*44,
  3. S. Airaksinen,
  4. K. Ruohonen55 and
  5. J. Koskela
  1. MTT Agrifood Research Finland, Biotechnology and Food Research, Biometrical Genetics, FI-31600 Jokioinen, Finland;
    Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Turku Game and Fisheries Research, FI-20520 Turku, Finland; and
    Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute, Jyväskylä, Survontie 9, FI-40500 Jyväskylä, Finland



We present here phenotypic and genetic parameters for the major quality and production traits of farmed European whitefish. A total of 70 families were produced by mating each of 45 sires to an average of 1.6 dams and each of the 52 dams to an average of 1.3 sires. A total of 2,100 individuals were recorded for survival, and 507 individuals for growth and quality-related traits. The 4 major results were as follows: first, all traits exhibited nonzero heritabilities except for fillet gaping and fillet protein%. The heritabilities for the production traits were harvest weight (0.42 ± 0.10), gutted weight (0.40 ± 0.10), fillet weight (0.36 ± 0.09), maturity score (0.27 ± 0.11, on liability scale), survival (0.19 ± 0.05, on liability scale), carcass% (0.14 ± 0.07), and fillet% (0.11 ± 0.06). The heritabilities for the quality traits were condition factor (0.49 ± 0.10), fillet lipid% (0.37 ± 0.10), muscle texture (0.30 ± 0.09), Distell lipid reading (0.26 ± 0.09), fillet lightness (0.16 ± 0.07), fillet gaping (0.04 ± 0.06), and fillet protein% (0.04 ± 0.06). Second, the quality traits that were significantly genetically correlated with each other were all related to lipid deposition. Increasing fillet lipid% (an undesired change in whitefish) was genetically related to desired lighter fillet color [genetic correlation (rG) = 0.70 ± 0.22] and to undesired greater condition factor (0.39 ± 0.17). None of the other genetic correlations between condition factor, fillet lipid%, muscle texture, fillet lightness, fillet gaping, and fillet protein% were significant. Third, BW and gutted weight were genetically related to the quality traits that were genetically related to lipid deposition. Increasing harvest weight was genetically related to high fillet lipid% (rG = 0.59 ± 0.14), lighter fillet color (0.61 ± 0.25), and to greater condition factor (0.60 ± 0.12). All other genetic correlations of harvest weights with the quality traits were nonsignificant, indicating that rapid growth was not genetically related to gaping and softer flesh. Fourth, none of the genetic correlations of carcass%, fillet%, maturity, and survival with the quality traits were significant, implying weak genetic integration between the traits. Yet, marginally significant genetic correlations were found for fillet lipid% with maturity score (rG = −0.46 ± 0.24) and survival (0.36 ± 0.19). These results provide the genetic basis for assessing the potential to improve product quality via selective breeding.

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