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Study shows shrimp grow faster and healthier when fed with fungi protein

A new study conducted by AquaBioTech shows that shrimp fed with Enifer’s PEKILO®Aqua mycoprotein lived longer and healthier despite their natural proneness to diseases.

Enifer team. Credits: Iiro Muttilainen
May 2, 2024

Finnish biotech startup Enifer has published a new study conducted by independent study partner AquaBioTech Group, at their aquaculture R&D facility, Innovia, about the health benefits of using Enifer’s PEKILO®Aqua mycoprotein in shrimp feed. The results showed shrimp living longer and healthier when fed with PEKILO®Aqua.

Currently, shrimp get roughly 10% of their protein from a fishmeal diet. Fishmeal, derived from marine fish, has been a staple in shrimp diets due to its rich protein content. Additionally, fishmeal contributes to the overall palatability of the diet. However, almost 90% percent of global marine fish stocks are now fully exploited or overfished, and the shrimp feed industry is the largest single user of fishmeal.

The study found that the overall mortality rate was notably reduced in shrimp fed the PEKILO®Aqua diet. The survival rate increased from 74% to 85% among shrimp consuming the 30% PEKILO®Aqua diet. Additionally, following carcass analysis, it was observed that the crude protein content was significantly higher (2.5%) in the PEKILO®Aqua-fed group compared to those fed diets containing higher levels of fishmeal.

Shrimp have an innate immune system but no adaptive immune system, meaning they cannot be vaccinated. To make shrimp more resistant to diseases, their immune systems must be stimulated periodically or constantly with separately added compounds. PEKILO®Aqua already includes immune-enhancing compounds like beta-glucan and nucleotides, which makes it a great feed for disease-prone shrimp as they can build immune cells faster without damaging the shrimp’s energy reserves.

The results also showed that PEKILO®Aqua contributes to improved shrimp growth without an increase in feed intake. Additionally, in addition to nucleotides, PEKILO®Aqua contains another shrimp growth-enhancing compound, spermine.

“Our findings highlight the potential benefits of incorporating PEKILO®Aqua into the diets of whiteleg shrimp for improved health, growth, and protein content. This research has important implications for sustainable and health-improving shrimp farming practices,” said Heikki Keskitalo, business development manager and co-founder of Enifer.

The world has seen significant growth in the shrimp industry over the last decade, but studies conducted with farmers show that they struggle with rising feed costs, market prices, diseases, and broodstock quality. Addressing these issues is crucial for the long-term sustainability of shrimp farming. PEKILO®Aqua not only delivers better performance in shrimp health and growth but it can also be locally produced with minimal land use and water consumption using upcycled sidestreams of several industries, making it an environmentally friendly option.

In summary, PEKILO®Aqua represents a promising solution that aligns both economic viability and environmental stewardship in the shrimp farming sector.

“We have several ongoing R&D projects to understand just how the potential our PEKILO®Aqua mycoprotein has in aquaculture. We already have excellent results when testing it with both salmon and now, shrimp. As we are gearing up our production, we are more than happy to discuss with feed producers about the benefits and potential of using our product instead of a fishmeal diet,” Keskitalo concluded.

Scientific setup and findings of the study

  • The study was conducted with an eight-week nutrition trial to investigate the impact of replacing fishmeal in the diets of whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) with increasing levels (0 to 30%) of Enifer PEKILO® Aqua, a highly nutritious, fungi-based protein. Shrimp were fed 5 diets, in quadruplicate, with reducing fishmeal dietary inclusion levels (24% to 0%).
  • At the end of the growth period, shrimp fed the 0% fishmeal and 30% PEKILO® Aqua diet exhibited significantly greater growth than those fed diets containing higher levels of fishmeal.
  • The final average weight of shrimp in the 0% fishmeal and 30% PEKILO® Aqua group was 25.8g, which represents a 10% increase in weight compared to the high fishmeal diet.
  • The survivability was 11% better in this group.
  • Palatability was comparable to that observed in the high fishmeal diet.
  • In summary, Enifer’s PEKILO® Aqua not only enhances shrimp growth but also offers an environmentally friendly alternative by utilizing fungi-based protein and reducing reliance on fishmeal.

Find more information here.