Category Archives: Research

FAO issues alert over lethal virus affecting popular tilapia fish

Though not a human health risk, Tilapia Lake Virus has large potential impact on global food security and nutrition

26 May 2017, Rome–A highly contagious disease is spreading among farmed and wild tilapia, one of the world’s most important fish for human consumption.

The outbreak should be treated with concern and countries importing tilapias should take appropriate risk-management measures – intensifying diagnostics testing, enforcing health certificates, deploying quarantine measures and developing contingency plans – according to a Special Alert released today by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warnings System.

Tilapia Lake Virus (TiLV) has now been reported in five countries on three continents: Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Israel and Thailand.

While the pathogen poses no public health concern, it can decimate infected populations. In 2015, world tilapia production, from both aquaculture and capture, amounted to 6.4 million tonnes, with an estimated value of USD 9.8 billion, and worldwide trade was valued at USD1.8 billion. The fish is a mainstay of global food security and nutrition, GIEWS said.

Joyce Makaka tends her FAO-assisted fish farm in western Kenya.

Joyce Makaka tends her FAO-assisted fish farm in western Kenya.

Tilapia producing countries need to be vigilant, and should follow aquatic animal-health code protocols of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) when trading tilapia. They should initiate an active surveillance programme to determine the presence or absence of TiLV, the geographic extent of the infection and identify risk factors that may help contain it.

Countries are encouraged also to launch public information campaigns to advise aquaculturists – many of them smallholders – of TiLV’s clinical signs and the economic and social risks it poses and the need to flag large-scale mortalities to biosecurity authorities.

Currently, actively TiLV surveillance is being conducted in China, India, Indonesia and it is planned to start in the Philippines. In Israel, an epidemiological retrospective survey is expected to determine factors influencing low survival rates and overall mortalities including relative importance of TiLV. In addition, a private company is currently working on the development of live attenuated vaccine for TiLV.

It is not currently known whether the disease can be transmitted via frozen tilapia products, but “it is likely that TiLV may have a wider distribution than is known today and its threat to tilapia farming at the global level is significant,” GIEWS said in its alert.

FAO will continue to monitor TiLV, work with governments and development partners and search for resources that can be explored in order to assist FAO member countries to deal with TiLV, as requested and as necessary.

The disease

There are many knowledge gaps linked to TiLV.

More research is required to determine whether TiLV is carried by non-tilapine species and other organisms such as piscivorous birds and mammals, and whether it can be transmitted through frozen tilapia products.

The disease shows highly variable mortality, with outbreaks in Thailand triggering the deaths of up to 90 percent of stocks. Infected fish often show loss of appetite, slow movements, dermal lesions and ulcers, ocular abnormalities, and opacity of lens.As a reliable diagnostic test for TiLV is available, it should be applied to rule out TiLV as the causal agent of unexplained mortalities.

TiLV belongs to the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses, which is also the same family to which the Infectious Salmon Anaemia virus belongs, which wrought great damage on the salmon farming industry.

In May 2017, The Network of Aquaculture Centres in Asia-Pacific (NACA) released a TiLV Disease Advisory and the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) released a Disease Card. The WorldFish Center also released a Factsheet: TiLV: what to know and do, this month.

The importance of tilapia

Tilapias are the second most important aquaculture species in volume termsproviding food, jobs and domestic and export earnings for millions of people, including many smallholders.

Their affordable price, omnivorous diet, tolerance to high-density farming methods and usually strong resistance to disease makes them an important protein source, especially in developing countries and for poorer consumers.

China, Indonesia and Egypt are the three leading aquaculture producers of tilapia, a fish deemed to have great potential for expansion in sub-Saharan Africa.

Contact

Christopher Emsden
FAO Media Relations (Rome)
(+39) 06 570 53291
christopher.emsden@fao.org

 

Adding Value to African Aquaculture Production

BioMar Group has an increasing presence in Africa and is now launching a complete high performing range for tilapia and African catfish for African markets.

Africa is a continent with huge demands for more food, produced in a responsible and sustainable way. “We believe that aquaculture is one of the answers to this demand”, said Ole Christensen, Vice President for BioMar’s EMEA division. “BioMar Group has ambitious targets and initiatives for shaping an efficient and sustainable global aquaculture in collaboration with the entire aquaculture value chain.”

In recent years, the growth of African catfish and tilapia farming has increased particularly in the African markets. For many years, BioMar has served the African markets from France by offering high performing starter and grower diets for these species. As farms become increasingly intensive, the need for a diet targeted for broodstock has grown. To meet this demand, BioMar France now expands its product range to cover all nutritional needs of these species at all stages of their life cycle by introducing broodstock feed type EFICO Genio 838F, available for all tilapia and African catfish farmers in Africa and other markets served by BioMar’s EMEA division.

As in Africa, tilapia is also a popular aquaculture species in Central America. Cross-utilising knowledge and expertise in aquafeed across borders and continents is one of BioMar’s important strengths, and it was central in developing BioMar’s feed range for tilapia. Global R&D at BioMar has in close collaboration with our unit in Costa Rica carried out research on this species and developed high value feed types, which have been fine-tuned by working in close collaboration with an intensive tilapia farm.

Tilapia in net (credit Biomar)

“The goal of broodstock feed EFICO Genio 838F is to increase reproduction capacity”, said Michel Autin, Technical Director of BioMar EMEA. “The vitamin mix and levels are fine-tuned to promote an increase in the number of females actively spawning.  Our newly developed broodstock feed has a formulation that includes the necessary protein and vitamin balances, which contributes to increased spawning frequency, hatchability, and survival of fry.“ The EFICO Genio 838F includes the probiotic Bactocell®* and immune modulating ingredients similar to BioMar’s EFICO Genio broodstock feeds for trout, sea bass and sea bream to improve survival and boost the immune system.

“These efforts have been of great value to the development of the feeds offered by BioMar for warm freshwater fish like tilapia and African catfish”, said Michel Autin. “And now we can, for the first time, provide a broodstock diet that is specialized for warm freshwater fish whose natural diet is largely plant based.”

African aquaculture production is expanding in various ways and into various species. BioMar’s presence in Africa steadily grows. The markets served by BioMar are not limited to tilapia and catfish. “We have for many years also supplied feed to a growing number of sea bass and sea bream farms based in Northern African countries. We aim to add value to African aquaculture production. We listen to and react based on the needs of our customers as we want to act as a locally responsive, agile, and specialized aquaculture feed provider, building our efforts on the four fundamental pillars: Innovation, Performance, Sustainability, and Cooperation,” Ole Christensen concluded.

* Bactocell® is the only probiotic approved by the European Commission for inclusion in fish feed.

For further information please contact:

Vice President, BioMar EMEA Division

Ole Christensen
Email: och@biomar.com

Technical Director, BioMar EMEA Division

Michel Autin
Email: michel.autin@biomar.fr

Tilapia Market Expects Reduction in Tilapia Price to Boost Demand Significantly

The Tilapia Market deals with the development and distribution of the cichlid fish. Tilapia fingerlings belong to tribe known as tilapiine cichlid and number in around 100 different species. Fresh tilapia are largely restricted to freshwater bodies like ponds, lakes and rivers.

The Tilapia Market has recently come into prominence as the fields of aquaculture and aquaponics gain in size and revenue. Tilapia farming is extremely popular owing to the low price of live tilapia, ease of preparing tilapia food due to its boneless nature and its mildness as far as taste is concerned. The low tilapia price has ensure that it is usually among the top 5 fresh seafood varieties consumed in the US.

Scope & Regional Forecast of the Tilapia Market

In recent years, the Tilapia Market has witnessed that fresh tilapia species from North Africa are most popular on a commercial basis. This popularity is due to peculiar characteristics like rapid pace of growth, high tolerance to density of stocking, and high levels of adaptability. This species is pretty popular in Asia. On the other hand, the US is a very popular destination for frozen tilapia. China is not only the leading exporter of this variety, but also of whole tilapia.

Traditionally, the European Union has been a big market for fresh seafood. But in recent times, imports have declined as only Germany and Netherlands are exhibiting a strong appetite for tilapia fingerlings. Vietnam’s tilapia farming operations has received a significant amount of encouragement from the government in the form of various initiatives and research studies. Supply links between various major parties like producers, processors and international distributors have also been strengthened in the country.

While there is heavy competition for other cheap fish varieties, the demand for live tilapia is expected to hold steady. The demand is also expected to spike on an annual basis due to the Chinese New Year.

Segmentations & Key Manufacturers Involved in the Tilapia Market

The Tilapia Market can be broken down into various segmentations on the basis of –

Manufacturer: China, Egypt, USA, Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand, Brazil, Vietnam, Colombia, Ecuador, Myanmar, Malaysia, Uganda and Bangladesh.

Application: Household Consumption and Business.

Type: Tilapia and Tilapia Fillet.

Geographical Location: North America (USA, Canada and Mexico), Europe (Germany, France, UK, Russia and Italy), Asia-Pacific (China, Japan, Korea, India and Southeast Asia) and Latin America, Middle East and Africa.

Contact:  To purchase report, see www.marketintelreports.com

Scientists net virus behind tilapia die-offs in Israel and Ecuador

An international scientific team led by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Tel Aviv University has identified and characterized a novel virus behind massive die-offs of farmed tilapia in Israel and Ecuador, which threatens the $7.5 billion global tilapia industry. A paper in the journal mBio describes tilapia lake virus (TiLV) and provides information needed to fight the outbreak.

Known in its native Middle East as St. Peter’s fish and thought to be the biblical fish that fed multitudes, tilapia provides inexpensive dietary protein. The world’s second most farmed fish, tilapia is also the basis of aquaculture employment in developing countries in Asia, Latin America, and the Middle East. (The United States is the leading tilapia importer globally.) Since 2009, Israel has seen precipitous declines in tilapia, with annual yields plummeting as much as 85 percent–highly unusual considering the fish is known to be relatively resistant to viral infections. Similar die-offs have been seen in Ecuador and Colombia.

Diseased tilapia

Tilapia diseased from tilapia lake virus infection, Ecuador. Photo: Hugh Ferguson.

The scientists used high-throughput sequencing to determine the genetic code of the virus from tissue taken from diseased fish in Israel and Ecuador. This process would normally be sufficient to identify the culprit, but in this case, the resulting DNA sequences didn’t match any known virus, with the exception of a small genetic segment, that only remotely resembled a virus associated with the reproduction of influenza C.

Undeterred, the researchers employed other tools from their scientific tackle box, providing ample evidence that the genetic material was the same as the implicated virus dubbed TiLV. They used mass spectroscopy to characterize the proteins in cells growing the virus, which matched those they expected to see based on the genetic sequence. By analyzing the structure of viral DNA, they went on to observe 10 gene clusters with complementary endpoints, suggesting a circular form associated with a common type of viral reproduction involving a protein called a polymerase.

Finally and conclusively, healthy fish were exposed to TiLV cultured in a laboratory, resulting in disease that matched with what was seen in those countries: in Israel, the fish had swollen brains; in Ecuador, liver disease. In the coming weeks, the researchers will publish on the link between the TiLV and an outbreak of disease among tilapia in Colombia.

“The TiLV sequence has only minimal similarity in a small region of its genome to other viruses; thus, the methods we typically use to identify and characterize viruses through sequencing alone were insufficient,” says first author Eran Bacharach, a molecular virologist at Tel Aviv University.

“It appears to be most closely related to a family of influenza viruses called orthomyxoviruses; however, we still don’t understand much about its biology,” adds Nischay Mishra, associate research scientist at the Center for Infection and Immunity at Columbia’s Mailman School.

Importantly, the findings provide the genomic and protein sequences necessary for TiLV detection, containment, and vaccine development.

“We are shifting our focus now to implementing diagnostic tests for containment of infection and to developing vaccines to prevent disease,” says Avi Eldar of the Kimron Veterinary Institute in Bet Dagan, Israel.

The team of 18 researchers represent five institutions in four countries: the Center for Infection and Immunity and the New York Genome Center in the U.S., Tel Aviv University and Kimron Veterinary Institute in Israel; the University of Edinburgh, Scotland; and St. George’s University, Grenada, West Indies.

“The New York Genome Center was excited to join in characterizing this novel virus and contribute to this important environmental and globally impactful research,” says Toby Bloom, the Center’s deputy scientific director.

“Gumshoe epidemiology, molecular gymnastics and classical microbiological methods were required to link this new virus to disease,” says Ian Lipkin, senior author, director of the Center for Infection and Immunity and John Snow Professor of Epidemiology at the Mailman School. “Resolution of this mystery was only possible through the concerted efforts of this talented group of international collaborators.”

While best known for identifying viruses behind human disease, the Center for Infection and Immunity, pinpointed the virus beyond a disease that decimated salmon farms in Europe in 2010. They have done similar work with seals, sea lions, and Great Apes.

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The current research was supported by grants from the United States-Israel Bi-National Agricultural Research & Development Fund (BARD IS-4583-13), the Israel Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development Chief Scientist Office (847-0389-14), U.S. National Institutes for Health (AI109761), USAID PREDICT, and a fellowship to J.E.K.T. from the Manna Center Program in Food Safety and Security at Tel Aviv University. The authors declare no conflicts.

Aquaculture Division Reports Positive Results in Tilapia Farming Research

LAS VEGAS, NV–(Marketwired – Mar 14, 2016) – Alkame Holdings, Inc. (OTC: ALKM), a publicly traded health and wellness technology holding company with a focus on patentable, innovative, and eco-friendly products, is pleased to announce positive results in Aquaculture farming using its patented water treatment technology.

Alkame Holdings Inc. teamed up with Keeton Industries, Seaworth Farms, Alpine Aquaculture and Wellington Operating Company, and constructed a research system in Wellington, Colorado and studied the effects of Alkame’s patented technology when applied to intensive recirculating aquaculture systems. The research was conducted with Tilapia, and according to Wikipedia, Tilapia is currently the fourth most popular type of fish behind tuna, salmon and Alaskan Pollock, and the third most popular aquaculture or farm raised seafood product behind shrimp and salmon globally. More than 80 nations produce and farm tilapia, including the United States. The US produces 10 thousand tons of Tilapia against a consumption of 2.5 million, with Americans consuming over 1 pound of tilapia per person each year. Farmed tilapia production is about 1.5 million tons annually, with an estimated value of $1.8 billion (USD), about equal to that of salmon and trout.

Testing of the Alkame Technology is led by scientist and consulting biologist, Jim Keeton, a proven expert in this field. Jim Keeton and Keeton Industries has remained at the forefront of developing aquatic technology for successful fish farming, and has actively been involved in experimentation, design and manufacture of various components and equipment of sustainable design and engineering of intensive aquaculture systems, operations, and manufacturing solutions, with more than 40 years of experience.

“The major advantage of Alkame technology is that it can completely or partially destroy organics in water by converting them into various harmless intermediates and end products,” stated lead scientist Jim Keeton. “Alkame’s advanced system and design ensures that high concentrations of dissolved oxidants are released to the water when circulated across the cells, reducing Nitrites by 50 %. Clarity and solids were also substantially reduced from 4 inches to over 20 inches after oxidation within 48 hours. Tannins and Lignin’s from feed leaching were removed with the Alkame process along with organic solids creating clearer and healthier water conditions. These factors could substantially reduce the size and costs of bio-filtration design for intensive recirculation systems.”

“Our studies show that the Alkame Technology aids in the overall health of the water, which in turn creates a healthier environment to raise the fish. The Tilapia benefit by lowering the mortality rate (less than 2% mortality), accelerating growth (1 gram to about 38 to 50 grams in less than 60 days), and by reducing the size and cost to the bottom line of bio-filtration efficiency. Producing a cleaner healthier water for the Tilapia is a game changer for Aquaculture systems, and the industry as a whole worldwide,” stated Alkame CEO, Robert Eakle. “After many months of research, and gathering up all of this encouraging hard analytical data, we can now begin to move towards exploiting our technology in this massive industry through various partnerships and joint ventures or licensing arrangements. We are very much looking forward to the pursuit of this application for our IP,” Eakle added.

About Alkame Holdings, Inc.

Alkame Holdings, Inc. is a publicly traded health and wellness technology holding company, with a focus on patentable, innovative, and eco-friendly consumer products. The Company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries market and distribute enhanced waters utilizing an exclusive patented formula and technology to create water with several unique properties, enabling an increase to available oxygen content, optimized pH levels, as well as the added benefits of electrolytes, and enhancement of antioxidant properties, equating into many potential health benefits, such as a reduced structure for permeability, improved metabolic efficiency, a boosted immune system, improved cardio respiratory function, and a decrease in lactic acid for faster muscle recovery. The organization is diligently building a strong foundation through the launch and acquisition of appropriate business assets, and by pursuing multiple applications to utilize its Intellectual Property by placement into several emerging business sectors, such as the growing aqua-culture industry, consumer bottled water and RTD products, household pet products, horticulture and agriculture applications, as well as many other various water treatment solutions to both new and existing business platforms.

For more information, visit www.alkameholdingsinc.com