Since 1966, OSU’s Molluscan Broodstock Program has helped develop the Pacific oyster industry with careful selections and DNA fingerprinting to ensure pedigrees and avoid genetic contamination. As a result of this work, yields of top-performing oyster families are on average 77 percent greater than the yields of progeny from nonselected industry broodstock.
More recently, the chemistry of the ocean was found to be threatening the oyster industry. Scientists suspected that water rising from deep in the Pacific Ocean and pumped into seaside hatcheries may have become corrosive enough to dissolve the shells and reduce survival of larval oysters.
“These seawater conditions have led to dire economic consequences for oyster hatchery operators that produce about three-quarters of all larvae used by West Coast oyster farms,” said Chris Langdon, program director. In response, Langdon is helping to restore seed production in West Coast oyster hatcheries by developing selected broodstock that can better survive these seawater conditions and by developing ways to improve the quality of ocean water that is pumped into hatcheries.