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Oyster Research Project Proposal 2011

Pavarni Naidoo Institute for Animal Production

An introduction to the oyster industry

9 oyster farms in SA R 8.5 mill industry Smallholder farmers ~100 employed full-time WC consumes 61 % oysters produced = local demand + export Room for growth esp. at Saldanha
From: AISA benchmarking survey 2009

Current Industry Structure

Hatchery spawn & Algae culture Larvae rearing Settlement Weaning (2mm)

International Chile: Cultivos Marinos Tongoy UK: Sea Salter USA: Coast-Washington DC Research-Milford, Connecticut Whiskey Creek France: Satmar

Larger weaning /Nursery (ponds) (20-30g seed) Growout (3-6 months market sizelonglines)

South Africa Kleinzee Mariculture Ponds (N Cape) Paternoster Oyster Company (W Cape)

South Africa Saldanha outer bay, WC (Striker fishing) Algoa Bay, PE (Two Oceans Oysters)



Problem ID
Currently no SA oyster researchers From Industry: Climate change Temp ; pH Seasonal Mortality Summer: Mort ; quality No local hatchery

Research Question 1
Do growth rates of oysters from commercial suppliers in Chile; the USA the and naturalised Breede / GouKou river stock, differ between strains and between grow-out sites at Kleinzee (N. Cape),Saldanha Bay (W. Cape) and Algoa Bay (E. Cape)?

Research Question 2
In what way do key environmental variables known to affect oyster growth differ between these 3 grow-out sites, and what is the temporal variation in these parameters? What are the ratios of chlorophyll a to nitrate at each grow-out sites, and how does this vary over time (within and between seasons)?

Research Question 3
What is the genetic

diversity, mapped
using microsatellite DNA markers (null alleles-Prof Hedgecock?), between and within cohorts of oysters of these four different origins?

Research Question 4
Synthesis: what is the interaction between the above environmental variables, key growth traits, and genetic variability among the oyster strains?

ID stocks (genotypes) suitable for local conditions as broodstock for a future local hatchery that is crucial for the growth of the local oyster industry
Oyster spat (currently imported at significant cost / risk/ inconvenience)

Project Overview

3 strains

USA Chile

Australia/New Zealand & naturalised SA??

Saldanha Bay Algoa Bay Kleinzee ponds
Su m m er

Water quality measures

Growth rate Measure/


Survival Condition index


Harvesting of oysters: Long lines

Materials & Methods 1

Oyster strains of different origins (imported)
Chile US Breede Australia/New Zealand?

3 Sites
Kleinzee Saldanha Outer Bay Port Elizabeth

Materials & Methods 2

Pack labelled (some individually tagged) batches of oysters into Ostriga cages Plant at each site Weigh every 2 months
(i.e. Field trips to each site for 3 weeks out of every 8 weeks for 2 years)

Materials & Methods 3

Environmental monitoring
(samples taken every 2 weeks)

Nitrate Particulate Organic Carbon and Nitrogen pH Particulate Inorganic and Organic Matter Temperature Chlorophyll a Condition Index

Materials & Methods 4

Genetics Study
Oyster tissue samples (min. 40 per strain per site = 360)

DNA Assays:
DNA extractions Microsatellite analyses (null alleles!!) Mitochondrial gene sequencing and sequence alignments to determine allele polymorphism

Quantitative genetic analyses (GXE) interactions

Industry Contribution:
Infrastructure (longlines) Boat time & labour Import of oysters (permits) Ostriga cages & rope Practical advice &assistance
Approximate cost of these contributions = R20 000/year

Industry Benefits:
At 2-month intervals, reports on short term comparisons of strains based on CI (condition index) Environmental monitoring (chlorophyll A and temperature data) Recommendation on best oyster stock to use at each location, in different seasons Info on genetic variation and key performance traits

2010 Pilot study key findings

Condition index (July):dry meat mass relative to dry shellsSaldanha & Kleinzee > PE
(even though PE oysters grew faster; warmer water, food availability is better at Saldanha)

Kleinzee oysters have a higher shell density than other farms, suggesting high quality shells (NB for developing young oysters)

Budget $$$
MCM: R300 000/year for 2011-2013 (3 years) + access to labs & equipment (Dr Grant Pitcher) Uni. Stell. : R30 000 + labs + 1 intern + 1 MSc. student (supervised by my co-worker Dr Sue Jackson) WCDA: my salary + R60 000 ?