The international project “Development of novel microalgal-based systems for shrimp disease control in South East Asia,” that aims to develop novel microalgal-based strategies to enhance and protect the shrimp farming industry in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, was awarded the International Awards 2019 under the Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) framework.
The project aims to develop novel microalgal-based strategies to provide a means of enhancing and protecting the shrimp farming industry in Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries.
Shrimp farming in Thailand has become a multibillion-dollar industry and a major export earner. However, the industry suffers from continual losses due to pathogen outbreak leading to losses of up to 60% of the product. Significant losses also occur due to the incidence of viral disease in shrimp farms in neighboring countries. Outbreaks of White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) and Yellow Head Virus (YHV) are particularly damaging.
This project aims to develop novel microalgal-based strategies to combat virus diseases. The first element of the project aims to engineer the microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to produce interfering double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA) and recombinant vaccine which could be introduced to shrimp through oral administration. For the first time, researchers demonstrated that production of one dsRNA in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii provides a high level of protection against YHV.
Researchers are also using wild type microalgal extracts to provide protection against multiple pathogens, following studies demonstrating that microalgal extracts confer a significant level of protection against multiple bacterial and viral pathogens when used in shrimp feedstocks.
The collaborative project, led by Colin Robertson, University of Kent, and BIOTEC’s Vanvimon Saksmerprome, principal researcher from Fish and Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Research Team, was funded THB9,000,000 ($275,000) by the Royal Society.