Breeding Program (non-GMO) for Resistance to KHV Viral Infection in Common Carp

David Lior, HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences, Animal Sciences

Common Carp Strains Genetically Resistant to Viral Infection by KHV


Veterinary & Animal Sciences   


Disease resistance, Genetic improvement, Selective breeding, Cyprinus carpio, Aquaculture

Current development stage

General list: TRL4 Technology validated in lab


Aquaculture is the fastest growing sector as a source of protein for feeding the expanding world population. Aquaculture also relieves the pressure that the Fish Industry puts on natural populations of sea and freshwater fish. However, industrialized aquaculture and intensified production have changed the natural conditions for fish. The escalation also increased disease outbreaks that continue to cause significant damage and risk to aquaculture development. With limited resources to prevent or control outbreaks, farmers search for sustainable production solutions and further business development with disease resistant strains. These strains are bred to be genetically resistant to one or more diseases. When used as broodfish, resistant strains will produce resistant progeny that are protected from the disease and can be safely farmed.  

Common carp is among the top five most produced fish in worldwide aquaculture. KHV (Koi herpesvirus) outbreaks inflict consequential loss of crops (up to 100%), affecting all places where common carp is farmed. Recent tests show that most farmed carp strains are susceptible to the disease. Therefore, solving this issue will have a radical change for the worldwide carp aquaculture.

Our innovation

With genetic breeding, we developed carp strains that are resistant to KHV disease.

Reliable disease models that resemble the farm infection were developed and used to test the fish’s resistance

Two parental strains were bred that can be crossed to produce resistant progeny

The resistant progeny in our breeding program have  over 80% survival upon exposure to the disease

Similar breeding programs can be successfully applied to more strains in the future


Resistant fish were developed by testing progeny and selecting fish from families with fewer mortalities during disease challenges. The program started by crossing between ‘susceptible food strains’ and a ‘resistant feral strain’ to produce a hybrid F1. This was followed by crossing the F1 fish back with the ‘susceptible food strains’, while selecting for resistant fish. To date, over 100 such families were tested. Fish from tens of resistant families were selected as parents for the next generation. The current generation of fish look like the original susceptible food strains and have an improved resistance.




The resistant strains we developed are expected to match the growth performance of currently farmed fish as well as to survive and thrive in disease contaminated areas. By using our strains, farmers will produce fish resistant to outbreaks.

The strains we developed have great potential for worldwide commercial use.

Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
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