Genetic Shrimp Broodstock Characterisation

Click here to download the sampling protocol: Genaeus – sampling protocol.pdf

The European aquaculture of shrimp comes with a pedigree: Launch of an EMBRC-BE Joint Development Activity

The recently approved Joint Development Activity (JDA), with its full title “Broodstock characterisation for pedigree management in whiteleg shrimp Penaeus vannamei” has started its activities.

The JDA is a partnership between the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center (ARC), Ghent University, and the Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics (LBEG), KU Leuven. It intends to develop a very practical service for the emerging sector of European shrimp producers, which is presently in full development. Among aquaculture species, penaeid shrimp feature among the highest valued; whiteleg shrimp Penaeus vannamei – a species originating from the East Pacific coast, but now produced worldwide – constitutes 80 % of global shrimp production.

For years Europe has been a major market for penaeid shrimp. However, local production of shrimp by European companies is a relatively recent phenome­non. Presently 13 EU countries produce about 450 tons annually, mostly in indoor recirculating aquacul­ture systems. The growing maturity of the sector is exemplified through initiatives such as the establishment of Euroshrimp, a network of European stakeholders involved in the support, improvement and promotion of European shrimp aquaculture (see 

Whiteleg Shrimp Penaeus vannamei

One of the key factors in shrimp production is developing protocols for domestic reproduction of the species concerned, to which several R&D initiatives by EU academia and/or private companies are presently contributing. However, these initiatives by European breeders to build their own broodstock often pay limited attention to broodstock ‘health’ in terms of genetic diversity and levels of inbreeding. If these aspects are not adequately managed, this may later on compromise the overall culture performance.

Therefore, this JDA primarily intends to genotype broodstock families as presently kept by European shrimp producers, and additionally a number of test families, run by the JDA partners specifically for this purpose. Following appropriate bioinformatic analysis, a standardized workflow for broodstock characterization and good operational practices for procedures of sampling and genotyping will be defined. Ultimately, the JDA partners aim at providing a service for a sustainable breeding strategy for this emerging European aquaculture sector. Through the Euroshrimp network, the partners have a direct point of contact with the target audience: as a first step in the implementation of the JDA, Euroshrimp members are now being contacted to provide tissue samples and phenotypic information of their broodstock for subsequent analysis.

The JDA partners believe that involvement of the sector from the beginning onwards in the development of the tool, is the best way to raise awareness to all stakeholders and to produce a service tailored to their needs.


Ir. Mathieu Wille
Department of Animal Sciences and Aquatic Ecology
Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center
Ghent University
Campus Coupure, Blok F, Coupure Links 653, B-9000 Gent, Belgium

Phone administration office

+32 9 264 37 54 / Fax +32 9 264 41 93



Prof. Filip Volckaert
Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics
KU Leuven
Ch. Deberiotstraat 32 box 2439, B-3000 Leuven, Belgium


+32 16 32 39 72


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