Cefas and the University of Exeter are leading on project to develop and apply new molecular biology techniques in aquaculture.
Cefas and the University of Exeter are leading on a £1.97m BBSRC-Newton Fund project to develop and apply new molecular biology techniques to reduce the impact of major diseases in aquaculture for the improvement of the livelihood of small-scale farmers in India, Bangladesh and Malawi.
Aquaculture contributes significantly to global food security and poverty reduction. In Bangladesh and India the shrimp fishing industry sustains the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of poor people. Fish farming too is fundamental to the lives of small scale farmers in India and in developing countries around the world. Disease is the biggest single factor limiting growth in aquaculture (with associated annual losses estimated at more than $6bn globally) and combating disease is critical for both the protection of the livelihoods of small scale farmers and for achieving national and global targets for aquaculture growth to help reduce poverty.
In this project environmental DNA (eDNA) methods will be applied to help understand the microbiome (assemblages of microbes and pathogens) in fish and shellfish culture ponds and within the organisms themselves for developing early warning of diseases and for avoiding disease outbreaks in low income countries where food is scarce. A central theme in this project is the alignment of the efforts of farmers, health professionals, researchers and national authorities to help prevent disease outbreaks.
Professor Charles Tyler, of the University of Exeter, who will lead the work, said:
“This grant provides a wonderful opportunity for us to combine our molecular skills in Biosciences at Exeter, with the expertise in disease diagnosis, pathology, and eDNA at Cefas, to better understand how the microbiology within culture ponds relates to health status and disease outbreaks in key crop species (shrimp and finfish) in India, Bangladesh and Malawi. We will use the data to develop models for predicting the drivers of disease outbreaks that can be applied to allow for measures to reduce or prevent crop losses for farmers.”