Research > Mariculture


Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing agricultural sectors globally and already accounts for more than half of the seafood produced globally each year. However, unlike most other agricultural sectors, many important species in aquaculture have not been domesticated and improved relative to wild populations. Our research involves selective breeding – the process by which important traits, such as growth rate and resistance to disease, in domesticated populations are improved over time by selecting the best individuals to breed the next generation. Recent developments in genomic technology have revolutionized modern selective breeding, providing a set of tools and techniques for identifying elite individuals with high accuracy, even for traits that are difficult or impossible to measure on breeding candidates, such as disease resistance or meat yield. Developing improved lines of important species through selective breeding is a well-established way to improve sustainability, production efficiency, and profitability of the aquaculture industry in Texas.

Selective breeding of eastern oyster for enhancement of Texas aquaculture

Oyster aquaculture is a particularly sustainable source of animal protein because it doesn’t reduce water quality or available coastal habitat, and it offers several net benefits to coastal ecosystems, including sequestration of nitrogen and carbon and reducing water turbidity. Our research involves domestication and selective breeding of oysters to improve traits, such as growth rate and salinity tolerance, that are important for a productive and profitable oyster aquaculture industry.

Dr. Christopher Hollenbeck

Team Members

  • Dr. Hugo Magana
  • Louis Garcia


  • Hollenbeck, Christopher M., and Ian A. Johnston. “Genomic Tools and Selective Breeding in Molluscs.” Frontiers in Genetics 9 (2018).
  • Holman, Luke E., Christopher M. Hollenbeck, Thomas J. Ashton, and Ian A. Johnston. “Demonstration of the Use of Environmental DNA for the Non-Invasive Genotyping of a Bivalve Mollusk, the European Flat Oyster (Ostrea Edulis).” Frontiers in Genetics 10 (2019).