A Scottish aquaculture company is about to trial a technology it claims will accelerate the move towards the ‘Holy Grail’ of disease-resistant salmon.

Argyll-based Landcatch Natural Selection is developing a glass slide on to which a skin sample is placed and which scientists can use to study the genetic make-up of individual salmon.

The findings can then be used to identify salmon more resistant to certain diseases, allowing selective breeding to produce more disease-resistant fish.

Identifying the genes responsible for the most common diseases in salmon would have widespread positive implications, said Landcatch general manager Neil Manchester. “Breeding fish resistant to lice and disease will be an incredible achievement and a major commercial breakthrough.”

Wider trials will take place next year, and Landcatch hopes the technology will be ready for commercial use in 2014.

The new technology was the equivalent of moving from “analogue to digital TV,” added Dr Alan Tinch, director of genetics at Landcatch’s e-centre in Alloa.