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


  • Infectious diseases cause significant damages to aquaculture and impede its further development. The preventive or control measures are very limited. Therefore, a development of genetically resistant strains, is considered a sustainable solution for further mass production.
  • Common Carp strains were found to susceptible to the KHV disease. KHV outbreaks may inflict up to complete losses of crops.   Therefore, a solution to the KHV-related problems would greatly impact worldwide carp aquaculture.

Our Innovation

The researchers developed carp strains that are resistant to KHV disease by applying methods of genetic breeding.

  • Reliable disease challenge model that resembles the farm infection was developed and used to test the resistance of fish.
  • Two parental strains were bred that can be crossed to produce resistant progeny.
  • Fish are available that can produce progeny with over 80% survival in disease challenges.
  • Similar breeding program 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, and followed by crossing F1 fish back to the food strains, while selecting for resistant families.

By now, over 100 such families were tested and fish from tens of resistant families were selected as parents for the next generation. The current generation of fish looks similar to the original susceptible food strains and have a much improved resistance.



The resistant strains we developed are expected to match the growth performance of currently farmed susceptible fish plus to survive and thrive in disease contaminated areas. Therefore, using our strains will save the losses farmers suffer from outbreaks of this disease. Common carp is a very fecund species, so with relatively high efficiency and simple protocols, many progeny fish for commercial farming can be produced from relatively few resistant brood fish. The resistant strains were developed from susceptible strains used in Israel but with a European origin so the product should be suitable for farming in these countries. However, the largest market is in the Far East (led by China), where many other susceptible strains are farmed, among which also some European strains. Therefore, pending field tests, the strains we developed bear a great potential for world-wide commercial use.


Contact for more information:

Ilya Pittel
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