Readying sustainable aquaculture for a changing ocean: uncovering the mechanisms associated with intergenerational carryover effects to enhance bivalve resilience to acidification


PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: Steven Roberts (University of Washington)

CO-INVESTIGATORS: Mackenzie Gavery (NOAA), Ryan Crim (Puget Sound Restoration Fund), Brent Vadopalas (Washington Sea Grant), Stephanie Burns (Maritime & Ocean Science High School)


In the past, up to 75 percent of Pacific oysters grown in Washington have been triploid, an oyster that can grow faster, has firmer texture, and tastes better year-round, making them more appealing to consumers. However, in recent years shellfish growers have scaled back farming triploids because of increasing mortalities and the many complexities and costs related to cultivating triploids. For these reasons, the shellfish industry is seeking a more affordable and sustainable alternative to triploids.

In collaboration with UW Genome Sciences, researchers are applying genomic science to develop a viable alternative to the triploid oyster. Using the cutting-edge technology of single cell sequencing they developed methods to separate embryos into viable single cells and were able to obtain gene expression data from these individual cells at various embryonic stages. They ultimately discovered genes that are likely involved in the development of oyster gonads, or reproductive organs. Findings could help to grow oysters for the shellfish industry that are more stable, amenable to breeding, and cost effective than the triploid oyster.