Pancreas Disease (SV3)

What is Pancreas Disease?

Pancreas Disease (PD) is a highly contagious, notifiable, viral disease caused by Salmonid alphavirus (SAV). There are six known subtypes of this pathogen, where SAV2 and SAV3 are the most common forms in Norway. The primary mode of disease transmission is horizontal, through contact with infected fish. The first signs of infection is usually a sudden stop of eating, followed by changes to the swimming behavior. After that high levels of mortality, reduction in growth and fillet quality can be expected. While there are no treatments for PD, several vaccines offer some levels of immunity against this disease.

Benchmark Genetics offers PD robust fish using QTL and GS. GS was implemented in 2018. Before this we selected PD resistance (SAV3) based on family selection. In 2011 we initiated utilizing a QTL for PD survival (Gonen et al., 2015).

Continuous work on pancreas disease

Benchmark Genetics has continuously worked on PD resistance through its external and internal R&D projects. This is done to improve the quality and optimize the phenotype measure of the genetic trait that increases PD resistance. We continuously search and narrow down to the causative genes that make the fish PD resistant and utilize the optimal biomarkers that increase the PD resistance in our product (Aslam et al., 2020; Hillestad et al., 2020; Robinson et al., 2020).

From 2018, Benchmark Genetics has selected for animals that are not only more resistant against SAV3 (Figure 1) (Hillestad et al., 2020), but also show a superior growth performance following infection.

Figure 1: Manhattan plot. Shows the genome-wide association of PD (SAV3) resistance in our populations. The figure shows the association of thousands of genetic markers tested against PD resistance. Each chromosome is designated with a different color. The information from a significant QTL (chromosome 3), has been implemented in the breeding program. This has resulted in breeding for fish with high resistance against the disease.


  • Aslam ML, Robledo D, Krasnov A, Moghadam HK, Hillestad B, Houston RD, et al. (2020). Quantitative trait loci and genes associated with salmonid alphavirus load in Atlantic salmon: implications for pancreas disease resistance and tolerance. Sci Rep.
  • Gonen S, Baranski M, Thorland I, Norris A, Grove H, Arnesen P, et al. (2015). Mapping and validation of a major QTL affecting resistance to pancreas disease (salmonid alphavirus) in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Heredity (Edinb).
  • Hillestad B, Makvandi-Nejad S, Krasnov A, Moghadam HK (2020). Identification of genetic loci associated with higher resistance to pancreas disease (PD) in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). BMC Genomics.
  • Robinson NA, Krasnov A, Burgerhout E, Johnsen H, Moghadam HK, Hillestad B, et al. (2020). Response of the Salmon Heart Transcriptome to Pancreas Disease: Differences Between High- and Low-Ranking Families for Resistance. Sci Rep.

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