Feed – Research
Glasgow launches artificial fish gut trials
CIENTISTS and industry leaders are embarking on a new project to build an artiﬁcial salmon gut with a view to better understanding ﬁsh digestion. Launched last month and led by scientists at the University of Glasgow, the three-year project, named SalmoSim, will work in collaboration with the Marine Institute and University College Cork (Ireland), Noﬁma (Norway), Alltech and Marine Harvest. SalmoSim’s aim is to explore the link between gut microbiota and the development and digestion of salmon. Gut microbiota, the bacteria that colonise the intestine, are known to play a vital role in digestion and nutrient absorption across a wide variety of diﬀerent organisms. Understanding how these microbes can facilitate the eﬃcient absorption of novel feeds in salmon is of vital importance. Dr Martin Llewellyn, from the University of Glasgow’s School of Life Sciences, said: ‘The experimental gut system, once established, will represent a powerful tool for carrying out basic and applied research into ﬁsh digestion. We’re really excited that it will be based here at Glasgow.’ Alltech already operates a successful equivalent ex vivo gut model for dairy cows and a number of nutrigenomic platforms in its applied research capacity. However, there is currently no system available for ﬁsh. Alltech’s international project manager for aquaculture, John Sweetman, said: ‘The combined forces of customer demands for sustainable and ethically reared ﬁsh, proﬁtability and regulatory pressure for therapeutic free aquaculture drives this research initiative. ‘The potential for improving feed eﬃciency and maintaining optimal health status will beneﬁt the industry and consumer alike.’ The initial project will run for just over three years. However, the tool that will be established should be a valuable test-bed for novel feeds and feed formulations for many years to come. The work will take place in state-of-the-art bioengineering laboratories in Glasgow, and at marine aquaculture trial centres in Norway, as well as in a unique experimental river system at Burri-
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shoole, County Mayo, Ireland. The project has several components funded variously by the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), and Science Foundation Ireland (SFI). SAIC announced funding for the project last summer, along with another feed research initiative, spearheaded by BioMar, the University of Stirling, the supermarket Morrisons and food company Saria.
This will investigate avian derived protein as an alternative feed ingredient, which could signiﬁcantly reduce feed costs and, therefore, overall production costs. Although Chilean and Australian salmon farming sectors have been using avian proteins for more than a decade, there are still some challenges around consumer acceptance of introducing these products into the UK’s food chain. Avian products are also used across Europe in feeds for species such as sea bream, sea bass and trout. Morrisons’ ﬁsheries and aquaculture manager Huw Thomas said at the project’s launch: ‘This will explore decreasing our reliance on marine resources for ﬁsh feed. If this concept proves acceptable to our customers, we could change our feed ingredient policy.’ During the ﬁrst phase of the project, the focus will be on collecting data from retailers and consumers to identify the issues related to adopting avian proteins. If consumer perception around avian proteins is found to be positive, later phases of the project could comprise nutritional and ﬁsh quality analysis. FF
The potential for improving “feed eﬃciency will beneﬁt the industry ” www.fishfarmer-magazine.com
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