|Prof. Ian Johnston|
The discovered genetic markers were patented and in Dec 2012 Professor Johnston and Dr Tom Ashton formed a university spin-out company, Xelect Ltd, to commercialise the research. The company licensed its patented genetic marker for enhanced fillet yield in Atlantic salmon to SalmoBreed A/S which is part of Benchmark Holdings, one of the world´s leading breeding and genetics companies. Xelect has since developed similar genetic selection markers for increased fillet yield in Nile tilapia which have been licensed license to Genomar A/S, the world’s leading Tilapia breeding operation with operations throughout SE Asia. Nile Tilapia is a tropical species with an annual production of 3 million tonnes – 15% of which is for the fillet market. Using Xelect´s genetic markers, broodstock can be identified that will produce offspring with 4% more meat worth U$124 tonne. The company has an active program of research to develop markers for other traits and species and has received funding from the EU H2020 programme, Innovate UK and Scottish Enterprise. Xelect is also sponsoring academic research, including a BBSRC Industrial CASE PhD studentship at Aberdeen University and a project to support a biosecure hatchery in the Shetlands for blue mussels co-funded by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre.
Xelect also leverages its expertise in molecular biology and seafood to provide genetic and flesh quality analysis services to an expanding range of business in the aquaculture supply chain. Exports now make up 60% of the company´s turnover. Xelect is becoming a strong, well-recognised brand within the industry based on a reputation for scientific excellence and exceptional customer commitment. The BBSRC recently published an Impact Case study on Xelect providing an example of the successful translation of basic academic research into a commercial enterprise with widespread societal benefits.
Visit the BBSRC webpages to read more.