PHOTOSHOOT + Microscopic life aquatic - improving animal performance by Barbara Weber, Microbiologist Responsible for Aqua-related Activities, Biomin
Aquaculture days Day One
Biomin research and development facilities, the BIOMIN Research Center, are integral in the research university campus at Tulln in Lower Austria, but which is some 50km north-west of Vienna on the Danube River. The first day saw the group visiting Biomin’s laboratories throughout the university, that were dedicated to plant biotechnology, mycotoxin strategies, disease challenges, phytogenics and pathogen control all centred on aquaculture and aquatic species. It was clear from the facilities dedicated to this research into products to counter the impact of mycotoxin on fish species, in particular, that aquaculture nutrition and sustainability is at the forefront of this company’s developments when it comes to new products. The day was rounded off with discussions and a visit to the Göttweig Abbey, a further 30km west along the Danube River, and near the town of Krems.
The venue for a series of lectures was held at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna the following day. The half-day seminar was introduced by Professor Mansour El-Marbouti, who heads the Department for Farm Animals and Veterinary Public Health and who has published 137 papers on topics relating to this discipline and has expertise in fish diseases, fish bacteriology, fish virology and fish mycologoy. Brief lectures covered topics from ‘Probiotics as modulators of the gastro intestinal tract’, delivered by invited PhD student Benedict Standen of Plymouth University in the UK: A presentation International Aquafeed will be reporting on in an upcoming edition. Biomin researchers explored the research behind several of its aquatic products including the ‘Effective beneficial bacteria in aquaculture’ delivered through its product AquaStar and presented by Jutta Zwielehner. The ‘Importance of phytogenic supplementation in aquafeeds’, by Otavio Castro was another well-received presentation. And Pedro Encarnacao Biomin’s aquaculture technical director based in Singapore, summarised the morning session for delegates. We should not overlook the presentation made by Jorge Dias on the ‘Trends in feed formulation and feed technology’ and the impact this will have on meeting the growing demand of a world struggling to feed itself adequately; another presentation International Aquafeed will be reporting in more details upon. The afternoon was taken up with delegates and staff from Biomin touring the fish trials facilities at the University of Veterinary Medicine before the group has one final meeting at the restaurant Viennese Heurigen ‘Weingut am Reisenberg’ overlooking the city of Vienna.
This was a most valuable visit with a balance of research explained, industry issues addressed and a close look at the trials and tribulations that go into product development. It also gave visitors time to network among themselves and exchange knowledge and points-of-view, but overall it brought home the message that aquaculture needs companies to commit to research and development at this level if industry is to supply a cost-effective food protein at affordable prices and in a consistent, safe and efficient manner. Many thanks to Biomin for its ongoing initiative to engage with the aquaculture industry at this level and in this depth.
The main task of our microbiology research team is to analyze and develop new, innovative microbial feed additives for different livestock species to improve animal performance and health. Through years of research we have gained sound expertise in the development of multispecies or multi-strain combinations of beneficial bacteria, or probiotics. These additives offer a good alternative to antibiotics or other treatments without the apparent associated drawbacks. Over time we have established a large strain collection with plenty well-characterised probiotic strains, as well as a plethora of livestock-specific and livestock-relevant pathogens. The ultimate goal is to find strains that complement each other in their unique actions. In our research we combine techniques from classical microbiology with modern state-of-the-art molecular biology techniques to identify the best suitable probiotic strains for a distinct purpose. To obtain a safe and acceptable biological feed supplement, the development process covers all steps from in vitro (isolation, identification, safety evaluation, characterization and assessment for specific properties) to in vivo (alterations in host gene expression or microbial composition in the gut). For aquaculture probiotics we focus on two different applications: 1) feed application to improve animal health via gut health and 2) pond application to improve water quality and indirectly aid animal health. For both applications, stability of probiotic strains under changing environmental conditions is a prerequisite. Thus, our in vitro work includes tests for pH, salt, bile, temperature tolerance and combinations thereof. For feed application the main goal is to identify strains that antagonize a broad spectrum of different pathogens. Antagonism would ideally occur not only through classical mechanisms, such as bacteriocin or acid production, but also through alternative mechanisms, such as quorum quenching, that can reduce a pathogen’s virulence. For pond application the main goal is to identify strains able to maintain water quality. To do so they need to efficiently degrade organic matter and/or remove toxic waste compounds, such as nitrate, nitrite, ammonia, or hydrogen sulfide. In the laboratory we have several colorimetric test systems available to define how these strains perform in vitro, especially concerning removal of nitrogen compounds.
30 | INTERNATIONAL AQUAFEED | May-June 2015