LSU AgCenter leads the effort to preserve aquatic genetic diversity

Preserving genetic material for aquatic species is the mission of the LSU AgCenter Aquatic Germplasm and Genetic Resources Center.

The LSU AgCenter Aquatic Germplasm and Genetic Resources Center (AGGRC) is playing a crucial role in preserving animal and plant species vital for commercial aquaculture and biomedical research. Dedicated to their mission, the center aims to safeguard the genetic diversity of aquatic species for generations to come.

Situated on the LSU campus, the AGGRC houses a diverse array of aquatic species, some of which are no longer found in the wild or are on the brink of extinction.

“It’s got a very clear mission — to preserve the genetic resources of fish and shellfish,” explained AGGRC Director Dr. Terry Tiersch. “And we work every day to come up with ways to do that.”

Beyond preservation, some species at the AGGRC serve a significant purpose in biomedical research because they share genetic similarities with humans. Dr. Tiersch noted that these small aquatic species are becoming increasingly valuable in biomedical studies, offering a cost-effective and easily grown alternative to traditional research animals like monkeys, dogs, and mice.

The facility integrates cutting-edge technology, including 3-D printers strategically placed throughout the facility. These printers play a pivotal role in creating specialized equipment capable of withstanding extreme temperatures, enhancing the center’s research capabilities.

“It may seem strange, but they’re there because it gives us the capability to make new things, to test them, to break them and refine them and distribute them to other people.” Dr. Tiersch said.

Crucially, the center adopts an open-sharing approach, providing hardware developed in-house to the public and similar research groups. This collaborative spirit aims to reduce research costs and streamline processes for fellow researchers across the globe.

“That way, they don’t have to go to some very expensive place with very expensive equipment that may be very far away,” he explained. “They can do it right there in their very own locations.”

Recognizing the economic potential in preserving genetic material, Dr. Tiersch envisions multi-billion dollar business opportunities emanating from the conservation efforts led by the LSU AgCenter Aquatic Germplasm and Genetic Resources Center.

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