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CTSA 2021 Annual Progress Report Summaries Now Available for Download

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By Milthon Lujan

As part of our NIFA reporting requirements, CTSA must submit a comprehensive Annual Accomplishment Report to the USDA. This 100+ page report features full progress reports of ongoing CTSA-supported projects, as well as final reports of projects that were completed during the calendar year. 

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In an effort to consolidate information for our stakeholders, CTSA has prepared a 2-page summary of each project that was active during 2021. Each summary provides a brief description of the project, as well as the anticipated benefits, impacts, and current progress of the work being done. Click here to download the Summaries. The following are brief highlights from some of the ongoing and recently completed projects: 

Diagnosing Prevalent Diseases of Aquacultured Animals in Hawaii

The primary purpose of this project (completed in 2021) was to identify the diseases of concern to the fish-producing industry and then compare lethal to non-lethal methods of testing. The project also aimed to screen certain species of imported and domestic commodity fish for specific pathogens.  Based on an industry needs assessment and literature review conducted by the PIs, a list of the six most diseases of concern to Hawaii producers was compiled: KHV, SVC, TiLV, Fno, OsHV, and S. iniae.  Fin and gills were sampled as nonlethal methods from tilapia and koi and compared to lethal tissue sampling. Unfortunately, non-lethal samples could not be obtained from oysters. PCR assays were validated at the UHADL for the six diseases. 928 tissue samples were collected from participating farms and purchased from markets for analysis.  All of the tilapia sampled from five markets were negative for Fno, TiLV, and S. iniae. Two of the four tilapia farms had positive detections for Fno (spleen +/- liver). All cyprinid samples (two farms, five markets) were negative for KHV and SVC. All oyster samples (four farms, six markets) were negative for OsHV. HDOA and local producers now know that the UHADL is able to perform PCR testing for these diseases of concern. Negative test results help assure the producers and HDOA confidence of freedom from specific diseases. 

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Establishing cost-effectiveness and efficiency of locally produced feeds and Moi farming technology in the Republic of Marshall Islands

This ongoing 2-year project is aiming to refine local Moi feed and farming technologies in order to transition into commercial production and transfer aquaculture technology. Market research indicates that Moi has a great commercial potential. Plus, it is highly prized for excellent flesh quality, fast growth, and adaptability to conditions of captive culture. As with all RMI projects, training is an essential part of this project.  In March 2021, three cages were stocked with juveniles for two trials; the cages experienced high mortality, likely due to feed that included contaminated fishmeal. The issue was resolved in Summer 2021, and results from the current cage trial are showing above 90% survival in the cages. The future trials in early 2022 will answer remaining questions. New protocols have helped increase survival, including changing the net out every month and sun drying. The project also continued training for the cage manager, two cage technicians, and two hatchery technicians. The five trainees learned hands-on hatchery husbandry (live feeds, larval rearing and nursery protocols), cage growout husbandry, proper feeding, water quality, operations of boats, boat engine maintenance, cage anchoring systems, cage net maintenance, rope tying and gaining experience with scuba. The trainees will continue to train throughout the second year of the project. This project is helping to increase local knowledge of fish husbandry and feed manufacturing. It is promoting waste reduction and the use of more agricultural inputs and outputs (feeds, fish). In addition, the project is hoping to increase production of fish for local and commercial consumption, and reduce dependency on imported goods and fuel, leading to improved self-reliance and food security. The project is also making strides in creating a local aquaculture workforce with an increased income. 

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Upgrading Black Soldier Fly Larvae Meal for Aquatic Feeds Using a Sustainable Microbial Process, Years 1 and 2

This project is seeking to develop black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) meals with improved nutritional values by employing solid state fermentation to increase protein content while reducing fat and chitin contents, utilizing GRAS edible microorganisms like Aspergillus oryzae and Yarrowia lipolytica. In addition to an initial study to establish culture conditions that support koji culture on BSFL meal, researchers have made good progress during the first project year in the design and testing of a packed-bed bioreactor for culturing the koji. The reactor / growth chamber is a box that can accommodate 5kg of powder, enough for one fish trial. The research group is currently working to consolidate wires into electronics with a smaller footprint, as they need to create a humid environment to grow microbes in the box. Boxes can be stacked to scale up production. The research group has also optimized and simplified the procedure to extract chitin from BSFL for analytical purposes. In addition, students and staff have been trained to conduct the initial studies. The proposed “microbial defatting” of BSFL meal is superior to oil extraction using organic solvents such as hexane, or by mechanical pressing. The proposed microbial conversion approach is intended not only to reduce the fat content in the BSFL meal, but also to convert the fat to additional proteins, in a way that is low-cost, scalable, and with low energy inputs.  

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