HATCHERY Feed & Management Vol 9 Issue 4 2021

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How microbiome analytics de-risk the aquaculture industry Rachelle Jensen, Luminis Water Technologies

As the aquaculture industry races to meet growing demand, water quality issues and disease prevention have moved into center focus. The Singapore-based tech firm, Luminis Water Technologies, seeks to take the aquaculture industry to a new level of efficiency by introducing a range of next-generation microbiome analytical solutions and water sampling kits that target a wide range of pathogens and offer unprecedented visibility into water health. The use of their proprietary algorithms can help fisheries diagnose mystery ailments that previously have decimated stock and driven operating costs up. As the world population grows, the pressure on aquaculture and the ocean’s ability to meet protein needs will only increase. Luminis offers a range of solutions to help aquaculture operations optimize their systems and better manage disease outbreaks. Currently, the gold standard in pathogen screening is traditional bacterial culturing on selective media, qPCR, and antibody tests which quantitatively determine the presence of a target gene or protein. Positive ID of a specific pathogen is quick and quantifiable. However, all of these approaches have their limitations. Any attempt to troubleshoot or identify an unknown pathogen is not possible. Beyond these limitations, buying a qPCR machine introduces a significant investment with prices starting at $5,000 per machine, plus the added investment in training up technicians. Screening offered by qPCR and plating is an effective technique used to determine the presence of a target pathogen. However, in the case of trying to understand co-infections by multiple pathogens, reaching a conclusive answer as to the cause of the disease cannot be determined. After the disease has taken hold, treatment can include antibiotics, but the pressure is on to deliver sustainably farmed fish and shrimp since antimicrobial

Hatchery Feed & Management Vol 9 Issue 4 2021

Figure 1. Fish lesions sampled.

resistance (AMR) was named one of the most important human and animal health-threatening issues worldwide (Ernesto et al., 2020).

Early disease warning The onset of disease is complex and not always caused by just one pathogen. There are underlying conditions that create an opportunity for pathogens, usually present in low latent numbers, to suddenly boom in population. By analyzing the microbiome behavior before a disease outbreak, microbiome analytics can spot the beginning of an imbalance, usually flagged by a specific marker species, which opens the door for