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Allen Appointed Laborde Endowed Chair

Photo: Standish Allen

Standish Allen Jr.

Standish Allen Jr. has been named the Laborde Endowed Chair for Sea Grant Research and Technology Transfer by the Louisiana Sea Grant College Program (LSG). His appointment is through June 2013.

“Dr. Allen is a world authority on bivalve breeding. I’ve been collaborating with him since 1993, beginning with our initial triploid oyster development for Louisiana,” said John Supan, associate professor and director of the LSG Oyster Hatchery on Grand Isle. “It’s been a rewarding relationship over the past 19 years, as Stan and I have worked together to bring advancements in oyster production to the Gulf of Mexico region.”

During his tenure as Laborde Chair, Allen will spend much of his time at the hatchery assessing the facility’s oyster broodstock and spawning system capabilities and developing plans for breeding program activities. Since 1990, the hatchery has focused on improving Louisiana’s oyster production through research and technology transfer. Current efforts are focused on an oyster breeding program for the Gulf of Mexico region. One outcome of the breeding program has been the production of triploid oysters, which have three sets of chromosomes unlike normal (diploid) oysters that have two. Triploids also are sexually sterile. Therefore, from June through November when diploid oysters are expending energy to spawn, resulting in lower meat yield, triploid oysters remain meaty and are more marketable.

Triploids can be created artificially by manipulating oyster chromosomes. A chemical may be momentarily used to trick the developing fertilized egg to keep a set of chromosomes it would normally eject – resulting in a triploid. However, this method, as well as heat shock and pressure methods, does not make all the treated oysters become triploid.

The chemical manipulation method also can be used to create tetraploid oysters, which have four sets of chromosomes and can sexually reproduce. When bred with diploid oysters, tetraploid oysters produce 100 percent triploid offspring. Those tetraploid oysters will serve as part of the hatchery’s broodstock.

Allen is professor and director of the Aquaculture Genetics and Breeding Technology Center at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, College of William and Mary, in Gloucester Point, Va. He also is an adjunct professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey. He earned his doctorate in fisheries from the University of Washington in Seattle, and his Master of Science degree in zoology from the University of Maine in Orono. His B.S. in biology is from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa.

The Laborde Endowed Chair for Sea Grant Research and Technology Transfer enables Louisiana Sea Grant to bring highly qualified scientists to LSU to focus on marine and coastal issues critical to the state. To date, eight internationally recognized researchers have been appointed to share their expertise on topics such as microbial life in extreme environments, coastal wetland restoration, seafood sanitation, waste stream processing/utilization, mercury contamination in coastal waters, and the mechanics of debris exposed to hurricane-force winds.

The LaBorde Chair was established at LSU in 1994 with a gift of $600,000 from Tidewater Inc. and a match of $400,000 from the Louisiana Board of Regents. John P. Laborde served as Tidewater Inc.’s chief executive officer for nearly 40 years. He was the founder and first chairman of what is now the Offshore Marine Service Association and played a major role in the worldwide development of the offshore service industry.