Throughout history fish have always played a crucial part in a nutritious diet across the world.
Over the past decades total production, trade and consumption of fish and aquaculture products significantly expanded.
Almost 156 million tonnes of fish ended up on our plates in 2018.
Rise in global aquaculture production from 1990 to 2018
Rise in total food fish consumption from 1990 to 2018
Growing fish consumption drives a need for a more intensive fish farming - a need which emerging aquaculture farms have stepped in to satisfy.
In order to obtain greater amounts of fish in a shorter period of time, aquafarms have implemented recirculating aquaculture systems (RAS).
Advantages of RAS
reduced water and land needs
fully controlled environment
automated feeding strategy
Disadvantages of RAS
high electricity consumption
However, the biggest challenge is...
Since the water in RAS is circulated between tanks, if one bacteria-infected fish enters the system, not long after, the entire RAS system can become contaminated.
Diseases caused by Flavobacterium spp. constitute one of the biggest host and geographic ranges of the bacterial fish pathogens.
The most common of these bacteria are the two opportunistic species:
bacterial gill disease
rainbow trout fry syndrome
What the Flavo
is going on with the fish?
Typically, these diseases are denoted by heavy bacterial colonizations of gill epithelium and eroded fin tips.
However, after these physical changes are being seen, the respiratory and osmoregulatory functions are already damaged.
Thus, if the disease is not detected in a span of a few days, it can result in massive fish die-offs.
Are there any solutions to this problem?
We have found three major approaches to solving the Flavoproblem.
One of our main goals is the development of a detection test that is based on helicase-dependent amplification (HDA) and lateral-flow assay (LFA) methods. This kit will help farmers in identifying what the Flavo is in their tanks.
Detection, however, is only a tool which will reduce aquafarm’s losses - it will not solve the underlying problem.
Due to this reason, we have developed a new fundamental method to treat these diseases based on toxin-antitoxin or exolysin-endolysin systems.
On the other hand, no matter how perfect the treatment strategy is, it solves only the consequences of the disease.
Keeping this in mind, we have also created an innovative prevention tool, which is based on the packaging of immunogenic proteins into alginate beads.