Blue Mussels

Blue mussels, Mytilus edulis, are an increasingly important farmed shellfish species in Maine, especially as commercial mussel beds have disappeared along southern and midcoast regions of the state.

DEI has discovered how to consistently produce gold striped mussels through selective breeding. A mussel of this color helps Maine growers differentiate their product in the market place and may help command a higher price. This added value product can help to offset the cost of hatchery production while opening the door to new marketing strategies based on sustainable mussel production.

Currently, DEI is examining methods to expand production of cultured blue mussels by addressing the barrier to increased farmed mussel production in the northeast — seed production. By improving hatchery production of juvenile mussels, DEI can provide reliable, cultured seed to growers who otherwise have had to rely on capturing wild seed (which is highly variable both in time and geographic area) and are now limited to growing one mussel crop per year. If growers do not have to wait for wild spat to settle on their ropes, they can grow more than one crop per year.

This research is composed of:

  • Using cryopreservation on mussels for the first time, Cryopreservation is a method used for more cost efficient hatchery production of shellfish, but no methods currently exist for blue mussels. DEI’s is developing a protocol for cryopreserving mussel gametes and larvae.
  • Testing different types of settlement substrates (rope) in the hatchery and field to determine which is best to grow mussels on.

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