Advancing A Hard Clam Selective Breeding Program
Publications: Success Stories - Extension (2022)

With a selective breeding program, fishermen from New York to Florida (FL) will have access to hard clams that can tolerate challenging environmental conditions in their region. Credit: Leslie Sturmer, FL Sea Grant


Antoinette Clemetson, NYSG Marine Fisheries Specialist, E:, P: 631-632-8730

Establishing a selective breeding program for hard clams will help to maximize the economic potential of the shellfish industry.

Stony Brook, NY, August 10, 2022 - The hard clam fishery represents the second most economically important shellfish being cultivated in the aquaculture industry; however, its production is constrained in several states along the Atlantic Coast. The Sea Grant Hard Clam Selective Breeding Collaborative* is addressing these problems through the development of resilient strains that are tolerant to specific environmental conditions in those regions.

In 2021, New York Sea Grant (NYSG) continued its co-leadership role in this national effort to establish the first hard clam selective breeding program. NYSG coordinated the second annual project team meeting during which team members prepared workplans and identified challenges to achieving their goals.

The Collaborative’s research team successfully constructed the hard clam genome and published the information in Genomics, Vol. 112, Issue 6. The team identified single nucleotide polymorphism genes that control resistance to the Quahog Parasite Unknown (QPX) pathogen and to heat. This research builds upon QPX studies that were supported in past NYSG Omnibus cycles (2006-2016), and marks the first step in using genetic features to provide growers in Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, and Florida with disease- and heat-resistant strains.

The new website: conveys project updates; an electronic mailbox,, enables stakeholders to communicate with the team; and a graphic was created to develop a brand identity for this project.

As a result of NYSG’s involvement with this project, hard clam growers in multiple states across the eastern seaboard made a significant step closer to address problems that constrain production in their regions.

Project Partners:

• Funding: National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration
• Stony Brook University Marine Animal Disease Laboratory

*The Hard Clam Selective Breeding Collaborative: scientists; Sea Grant Extension professionals from Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Virginia, and Florida; Cooperative Extension; the public and private sectors. A detailed list of partners is available at

“In order to elevate the hard clam industry, the Hub must educate, build trust, and develop a plan to engage stakeholders in the breeding program.” — Sea Grant Hard Clam Selective Breeding Hub 2021

More Info: New York Sea Grant

New York Sea Grant (NYSG), a cooperative program of Cornell University and the State University of New York (SUNY), is one of 34 university-based programs under the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Sea Grant College Program.

Since 1971, NYSG has represented a statewide network of integrated research, education and extension services promoting coastal community economic vitality, environmental sustainability and citizen awareness and understanding about the State’s marine and Great Lakes resources.

Through NYSG’s efforts, the combined talents of university scientists and extension specialists help develop and transfer science-based information to many coastal user groups—businesses and industries, federal, state and local government decision-makers and agency managers, educators, the media and the interested public.

The program maintains Great Lakes offices at Cornell University, SUNY Buffalo, SUNY Oswego and the Wayne County Cooperative Extension office in Newark. In the State's marine waters, NYSG has offices at Stony Brook University in Long Island, Brooklyn College and Cornell Cooperative Extension in NYC and Kingston in the Hudson Valley.

For updates on Sea Grant activities: has RSS, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube links. NYSG offers a free e-list sign up via for its flagship publication, NY Coastlines/Currents, which is published quarterly.

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