Specialist genetics support

Xelect has well equipped laboratories at our headquarters in St Andrews (UK) with state-of-the-art genotyping platforms and DNA sequencing facilities enabling us to provide a complete package of breeding support delivered by a world-class team of biologists, bioinformaticians and quantitative geneticists.

Xelect

Our well-equipped laboratories also carry out service work including DNA extraction and normalisation, genotyping, DNA-based sex determination, flesh quality consultancy and ‘next day’ triploidy testing of live eggs.

Research and innovation is built into our DNA. Xelect employs leading scientists and collaborates with major academic research groups in genetics and breeding across Europe. We have an active research and development pipeline to develop new genetic tools and computational methods as well as hardware to measure traits related to body shape and pigmentation.

We take pride in the high levels of satisfaction achieved for our services among our customers in 17 countries across Europe. North and South America, SE Asia and Oceania.

Xelect operates worldwide and provides genetic support for producers wanting to either establish or improve the performance of their own broodstock. We are a multispecies company with experience with finfish, shrimp and shellfish.

The company was founded by Professor Ian Johnston FRSE, former Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute and Dr Tom Ashton with the support of follow-on funding from the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Council to commercialise research on broodstock selection markers.

The major shareholders of the company are the founders, the University of St Andrews and EOS Technology Investment Ltd.

11Xelect
Our People
Professor Ian Johnston
Professor Ian Johnston
CEO & Co-founder

Ian is internationally recognised as one of the world’s leading fish physiologists. He has published more than 350 research papers during his academic career and has a long history of working with the aquaculture industry. Before becoming full-time CEO of Xelect he was Chandos Professor and Director of the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St Andrews (1997-2016), member of the Natural Research Council of the UK (1995-2000) and President of the Society for Experimental Biology, one of Europe’s leading learned societies and publishing companies (2007-9).

Dr Tom Ashton
Dr Tom Ashton
Operations director & Co-founder

Tom is co-inventor of the Xelect genetic markers and of the tensile method of texture analysis. He has broad experience in marine biology, aquaculture and molecular biology. Tom obtained a PhD from University of St Andrews in 2011, with a thesis entitled ‘The genetic basis of flesh quality traits in farmed Atlantic salmon’.

Dr Rachael Wilbourn
Dr Rachael Wilbourn
Laboratory Manager

Rachael was awarded a PhD in Evolution and Behaviour from the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada. She specialises in population genetics and is highly skilled in a range of molecular techniques and data analysis. She obtained a BSc in Zoology and MRes in Crops for the Future from the University of Dundee

Dr Marie Smedley
Dr Marie Smedley
Breeding Program Manager

Marie has a PhD from the Institute of Aquaculture at the University of Stirling and is an expert in the biology of triploidy in Atlantic salmon. Marie has commercial experience working with Marine Harvest and Biomar and a broad range of laboratory and analytical skills. At Xelect Marie is responsible for close liaison with our breeding management customers around the world.

Dr José Mota-Velasco
Dr José Mota-Velasco
Breeding Programme Manager

José has a PhD in fish genetics from University of Stirling. He has 10 years experience working for major aquaculture genetics firms. At Xelect José joins Marie in delivering comprehensive, specialist support to our customers breeding programmes.

Dr Christopher Hollenbeck
Dr Christopher Hollenbeck
Quantitative Geneticist Consultant

Chris is a Research Fellow at the Scottish Oceans Institute at the University of St. Andrews with experience in population genetics and bioinformatics. His research interests involve applying genomics to problems in aquaculture and fisheries. He obtained a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Genetics from Texas A&M University.

Dr Francesca Tedeschi
Dr Francesca Tedeschi
Senior Scientist

Francesca has a BSc. MSc (First Class Honours Cell and Molecular Biology) and PhD (molecular biotechnology) from Tuscia University, Before joining Xelect she worked for 5 years as a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Molecular Genetics at the Leibniz Institute in Germany.

Mr Shahmir Naseer
Mr Shahmir Naseer
Scientific Officer

Shahmir has a BSc honours in Biomedical Science from University of Lincoln (2016) and a MSc in Human Molecular Genetics from Imperial College London (2017).

Mr Dave Cooper
Mr Dave Cooper
Finance Manager

Dave holds several non-executive board positions and was former Finance Director at Dawson International.

Ms Anne Shaw
Ms Anne Shaw
Administrative Assistant

Anne held several PA and administrative positions in South Africa before returning home to Scotland.

Mr Dionisio Ramos
Mr Dionisio Ramos
Sales Development Manager (Chile)

Dionisio (Right) is an experienced professional of the Chilean salmon farming industry and a former manager at Landcatch. He is based in our office in Puerto Montt, Chile.

Dr Daniel Macqueen
Dr Daniel Macqueen
Genomics Consultant

Dan is a Lecturer in Biosciences at the University of Aberdeen and a leading researcher on fish genomics, with particular expertise on the evolution and functional consequences of whole genome duplication in salmonids. Dan obtained his PhD degree and carried out two postdoctoral fellowships with Ian Johnston at St Andrews.