Project number: 2016-801
Project Status:
Budget expenditure: $1,972,777.00
Principal Investigator: Matt Cunningham
Organisation: Australian Seafood Industries Pty Ltd (ASI)
Project start/end date: 19 Jan 2017 - 30 Aug 2019


The introduction of POMS to Tasmania has resulted in an increased requirement for POMS resistant oysters nationally. The Tasmanian industry has an urgent requirement to allow the industry to rebuild towards sustainability for those areas currently affected by the disease and for protection for those areas which are currently free from it. The South Australian industry, whist free from the disease at this point, also requires POMS resistant oysters so that it can hopefully avoid the crippling losses suffered in Tasmania by having resistant oysters stocked onto their farms prior to any potential outbreaks. New South Wales like Tasmania has areas that have been affected and areas that are free from POMS. Biosecurity restrictions as a result of POMS incursions have added an extra layer of complexity to ensuring that the benefits of the selective breeding program are achieved nationally. As a result there is a requirement for further research to adapt the breeding program to the new paradigm of POMS in Tasmania and permit the industry to recover and be protected from the threat of further expansion of POMS into new areas.


1. Design and implement a selective breeding strategy for ASI that meets the immediate and medium term (5 year) needs of the national Pacific Oyster industry.
2. Identify Biosecurity constraints to the movement of ASI stock and develop a strategy to permit optimal flow of benefits across the national industry
3. Review, document and communicate protocols and procedures for the use of OsHV-1 exposed broodstock by hatcheries and the transfer of resulting progeny compliant with State regulations.
4. Redefine the protocols for the laboratory family spat challenge model to improve the predictability of field survival, with the goal of a 70% correlation between the laboratory and field tests and to extend the application of the challenge model to include challenges to larvae.
5. Develop a system, supported by general purpose algorithms that will allow ASI to routinely benchmark the estimated breeding values of ASI POMS resistant families against commercial performance of hatchery stock of known pedigree after exposure to OsHV-1 at different life stages.
6. Document and implement strategy to allow use, within the breeding program, of male and female broodstock at 1 year
7. Develop and verify an SNP based genetic test that can discriminate ASI oysters from non-ASI oysters and to identify oysters to family and implement a plan for this test to be commercially available to stakeholders

Final report

ISBN: 978-0-646-81759-0
Authors: Matthew Cunningham Peter Kube Andrew Trotter Xiaoxu Li Peter Kirkland Nick Robinson Greg Smith and Chris Carter
Final Report • 2020-03-01 • 2.27 MB


The research was conducted as a direct consequence of the 2016 Pacific Oyster Mortality Syndrome (POMS) outbreak TAS which decimated parts of this State’s Pacific Oyster (Crassostrea gigas) industry and caused numerous flow on effects throughout the entire Australian industry. The project was aimed to allow continuation and improvement of the work that had been undertaken prior to the 2016 outbreak, which was not only a major disruptor to the industry but also the breeding program. New techniques needed to be established to allow continued breeding in TAS in the new POMS paradigm and operations were required to be established in SA due to the biosecurity restrictions brought about by the TAS outbreak. Aspects of the project also looked to increase the rate of genetic gains for POMS resistance by developing additional supporting technologies.
The project was conducted across multiple areas that reflected the objectives of the project. Researchers worked collaboratively to conduct research across breeding strategy development, capacity building in SA, genetic improvement, laboratory and field challenges, accelerated maturation and developing an identification tool.

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