Thailand.- “Development of novel microalgal-based systems for shrimp disease control in South East Asia,” a collaborative effort between the University of Kent and BIOTEC was awarded the International Awards 2019 under Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) framework.
Funded by the Royal Society for the amount of THB 9,000,000, the project is led by Prof. Colin Robertson, University of Kent, and BIOTEC’s Dr. Vanvimon Saksmerprome, Principal Researcher from Fish and Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Research Team.
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 South East Asian countries. Shrimp farming in Thailand has become a multi-billion 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 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.
The project aims to develop novel microalgal-based strategies to combat the virus. The first element of the project aims to engineer the microalgae Chlamydomonas reinhardtii to produce interfering double-stranded RNAs (dsRNA) and recombinant vaccine which could be introduced to shrimp through oral administration. A collaboration between Prof. Robinson and Dr. Samsmerprome demonstrates for the first time that production of one dsRNA in the chloroplast of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii provides a high level of protection against YHV. A new transgene expression technology to produce additional dsRNAs and proteins against WSSV.
Another element of the project involves the use of 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. This part of the project is led by Dr. Apiradee Hongsthong, Principal Researcher, BioSciences and Systems Biology Research Team.
The GCRF is part of the United Kingdom’s official development assistance. Its aim is to support cutting-edge research and innovation that addresses the global issues affecting developing countries.