United States Department of Agriculture

COMES is fortunate to be co-located with the United States Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service at Hatfield Marine Science Center.  COMES collaborates with the USDA-ARS on shellfish research, primarily oyster research. The USDA's research arm, the Agricultural Research Service, conducts various kinds of agriculture-related research all over the United States. This research might relate to improving crop yield, breeding for disease-resistance, or exploring the health effects of certain foods.

The USDA's ARS-Newport branch has worked directly with COMES faculty member Chris Langdon and the Molluscan Broodstock Program for many years to research and improve the yield and health of Pacific oysters on the Oregon Coast.  In preparation for Dr. Langdon's upcoming retirement USDA-ARS is expanding at Hatfield, and MBP is becoming part of their new Pacific Shellfish Breeding Center (PSBC). The PSBC is still being brought online, but this program will focus on genetics, breeding and improved production technologies for the Pacific oyster. The research will focus on improving traits that industry growers value, such as growth, disease and stress tolerance, allocation of reproductive effort, triploid survival, shell shape, and shell and meat color.  In particular, disease outbreaks continue to be a major concern, including outbreaks of microvariants of the Ostreid herpesvirus that have caused mass mortalities on shellfish farms in Europe and Oceania. The PSBC will accelerate the pace of improvements by 1) coordinating efforts among programs, 2) applying new genetic tools and increased resources, 3) testing new strains more widely, and 4) advancing production methodologies. Substantial investment for the ARS shellfish program includes funds to support OSU’s continued collaboration on oyster genetics, breeding, and ecology, and we are looking forward to many productive years to come.

For more on the history of MBP see Molluscan Broodstock Program/USDA-ARS Pacific Shellfish Breeding Center.

For more on how this partnership was strengthened, see the COMES Newsletter - Spring 2021.