About the project

The Challenge

Aquaculture is the fastest developing food production sector, accounting for more than 50% of the fish for human consumption worldwide. Fisheries are not expected to rise due to overexploitation of existing stocks, while the demand for fish to feed a growing global population is continually increasing. In order to ensure the sustainability of the aquaculture sector it is critical to domesticate and selectively improve the major commercial fish species, such as Nile tilapia.

Project Objectives

EPIFISH is based on the concept that epigenetics can play a significant role in fish domestication. Its main objectives are to:

  • Determine how selection affects the epigenetic landscape (DNA methylation) during domestication
  • Discover and characterize DNA methylation (epialleles) and miRNA variants (isomiRs) associated with growth
  • Validate epialleles and isomiRs as potential epigenetic markers for future selective breeding programmes

Expected results and impact

In addition to representing a leap forward from our current knowledge of fish domestication, the identification of novel epigenetic markers associated with growth will have a major impact on aquaculture biotechnology. In particular, EPIFISH will:

  • Provide novel mechanistic insights into the role of epigenetics in fish domestication
  • Open new horizons for future frontier research in epigenetics and transgenerational inheritance
  • Enable a more efficient selection for robust fish
  • Improve profitability and sustainability of the aquaculture sector

Funded by






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EPIFISH at a glance

Title: Innovative epigenetic markers for fish domestication

Programme: ERC consolidator grant

Topic: Applied life sciences and biotechnology

Total budget: 1,996,189 EUR

Duration: 60 months as of 01/07/2016

Coordinator: Prof. Jorge Fernandes, Nord University, Norway