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Plant-Based Supplement Improves the Health of Farmed Shrimp

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By Milthon Lujan

In eubiosis, probiotics and pathogens are balanced in gut microbiota of healthy shrimp. In dysbiosis, probiotics are outcompeted by pathogens in shrimp gut and, in turn, this imbalance of microbiota causes host diseases. Source: Lee et al., (2024); Sci Rep 14, 11584.
In eubiosis, probiotics and pathogens are balanced in gut microbiota of healthy shrimp. In dysbiosis, probiotics are outcompeted by pathogens in shrimp gut and, in turn, this imbalance of microbiota causes host diseases. Source: Lee et al., (2024); Sci Rep 14, 11584.

The shrimp farming industry faces challenges arising from climate change and diseases. Researchers have discovered a promising solution in Shrimp Best (SB), a plant-based supplement that improves shrimp health and farm productivity.

Researchers from the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, National Taiwan University, National Chung Hsing University, and Sumbawa University of Technology (Indonesia) have developed Shrimp Best (SB), a phytogenic formulation specifically for white shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei). This means it is plant-derived and offers a natural way to improve shrimp health and farming practices.

Plants as Powerful Allies

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Medicinal plants are emerging as a game-changer in the fight against shrimp diseases. Phytogens, natural compounds derived from plants, offer several advantages over antibiotics. They are free of drug residues, pose a lower risk of resistance development, and often contain multiple beneficial compounds.

Shrimp Best (SB): A Plant-Based Preparation

The study investigates a new phytogenic formulation called Shrimp Best (SB), which contains the plant “Spanish needles” (Bidens pilosa) and bitter melon (Momordica charantia).

Various studies have highlighted the potential of “Spanish needles” (Bidens pilosa) to promote the increase of beneficial bacteria (probiotics) and decrease harmful ones in the gut. However, the exact mechanisms by which plants modulate the gut microbiota remain unclear.

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Researchers evaluated its impact on shrimp growth, resistance to Vibrio infection, and its influence on the gut microbiota. Additionally, the study aimed to identify the active components in SB responsible for promoting beneficial bacteria.

Growth and Disease Resistance

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The study results demonstrate that SB has a remarkable dual effect:

  • Increases Growth: Studies show that SB enhances shrimp growth in two key ways. First, shrimp fed with SB gained more weight compared to those without the supplement. Second, they were more efficient at converting feed into body mass, reducing waste.
  • Combats Vibriosis: SB effectively protects shrimp from Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a major bacterial pathogen. This results in healthier shrimp populations and fewer losses for aquaculturists.

The Science Behind the Success

Scientists delved deeper to understand how SB works its magic. Here is the fascinating story:

  • Microbiome Renewal: SB alters the composition of gut bacteria in shrimp. It promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria like Lactobacillus johnsonii while suppressing harmful ones like Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
  • Lactobacillus: The Gut Guardian: Lactobacillus johnsonii thrives with SB, and its presence is key. This friendly bacterium produces anti-Vibrio metabolites that disrupt the cell membranes of harmful bacteria, effectively eliminating them.
  • Power of Plants: The effectiveness of SB comes from its natural ingredients. Researchers identified three specific fatty acids within SB as the active compounds responsible for its benefits.

Conclusion

Key findings from the Shrimp Best (SB) study for shrimp aquaculture are:

  • Effective Antibiotic Alternative: A plant-derived product, SB (made from “Spanish needles” and bitter melon), combats Vibrio infection in shrimp as effectively as antibiotics but without the risks of residues and resistance.
  • Boosts Growth and Health: SB supplementation improves shrimp growth performance and overall health.
  • Modulates Gut Microbiota: SB promotes beneficial bacteria (probiotics) like Lactobacillus johnsonii while suppressing harmful bacteria like Vibrio parahaemolyticus.
  • Unique Mechanism: Unlike antibiotics that directly kill pathogens, SB fosters a healthy gut environment by promoting probiotics, which then outcompete and suppress harmful bacteria.
  • Sustainable Solution: SB offers a natural and sustainable approach to shrimp health, promoting antibiotic-free aquaculture.
  • Identified Active Ingredients: Linoleic acid, linolenic acid, and stearic acid in SB were identified as key contributors to probiotic growth.
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Shrimp Best offers a sustainable and effective approach to improving shrimp farm health. By promoting growth, enhancing feed efficiency, and protecting against diseases, SB can significantly benefit shrimp farmers and the shrimp industry.

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The study was funded by the Council of Agriculture, Taiwan.

Contact
Wen-Chin Yang
Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan
Graduate Institute of Biotechnology, National Chung Hsing University, Taichung, Taiwan
Email: wcyang@gate.sinica.edu.tw

Reference (open access)
Lee, YS., Umam, K., Kuo, TF. et al. Functional and mechanistic studies of a phytogenic formulation, Shrimp Best, in growth performance and vibriosis in whiteleg shrimp. Sci Rep 14, 11584 (2024). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-024-62436-x