A new project led by the University of Exeter will combat aquaculture diseases across India, Bangladesh and Malawi.
The BBSRC-Newton Fund Project, led by the University of Exeter and the Centre for the Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Sciences has been granted £1.97 million to reduce the impact of major diseases in aquaculture.
Disease remains to be aquaculture’s largest limiting factor and affect hundreds of thousands of poor, small-scale farmers.
The ability to understand and reduce the impact of disease will help alleviate the poverty faced by fish farmers in developing countries, who rely on income from the fishing industry as diseases are linked to an estimated $6bn in global annual losses.
Using environmental DNA (eDNA) will allow the researchers to observe the early warning signs of disease, avoiding outbreaks and helping to protect the fish farmers who suffer from the lack of food.
One of the key leaders of the project, Exeter University’s Professor Charles Tyler commented: “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”.
Having already established an agreement for Cefas to fund 20 PhD studentships, the collaboration of these two institutions will allow them to work as effectively as possible to provide a solution to disease in aquaculture.