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Rights: The University of Waikato
Published 29 November 2007

Breeding mussels to have 'better' characteristics is very similar to breeding cattle or pumpkins — but what makes one mussel 'better' than another?


Henry Kaspar (Cawthron Institute) The mussel breeding programme is about producing mussels which are better. Better could mean growing faster, it could also mean tasting better, looking better, or being cheaper for processing. There is a whole range of ways in which we could improve the wild mussel for the mussel industry. And so the way we go about that is by selecting parents, mating them, and growing the babies from these matings.

Ellie Watts (Cawthron Institute) We are raising juvenile mussels right from the sperm and egg, and we are studying the effects with food consumption and how they behave with different types of algae. So we are just continually monitoring them every day, measuring them, looking at their health and their growth.

Henry Kaspar (Cawthron Institute) We measure their performance in whatever respect we choose and then take the best ones of that offspring and mate them again, and ultimately we’ll get much better mussels. It’s similar to what has been happening with cattle, cats and goats and pumpkins.