Category Archives: Research
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.
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.
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.
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
Does selection in a challenging environment produce Nile tilapia genotypes that can thrive in a range of production systems?
Authors: Ngo Phu Thoa, Nguyen Huu Ninh, Wayne Knibb & Nguyen Hong Nguyen
This study assessed whether selection for high growth in a challenging environment of medium salinity produces tilapia genotypes that perform well across different production environments. We estimated the genetic correlations between trait expressions in saline and freshwater using a strain of Nile tilapia selected for fast growth under salinity water of 15–20 ppt. We also estimated the heritability and genetic correlations for new traits of commercial importance (sexual maturity, feed conversion ratio, deformity and gill condition) in a full pedigree comprising 36,145 fish. The genetic correlations for the novel characters between the two environments were 0.78–0.99, suggesting that the effect of genotype by environment interaction was not biologically important. Across the environments, the heritability for body weight was moderate to high (0.32–0.62), indicating that this population will continue responding to future selection. The estimates of heritability for sexual maturity and survival were low but significant. The additive genetic components also exist for FCR, gill condition and deformity. Genetic correlations of harvest body weight with sexual maturity were positive and those between harvest body weight with FCR were negative. Our results indicate that the genetic line selected under a moderate saline water environment can be cultured successfully in freshwater systems.
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Scientific Reports 6, Article number: 21486 (2016)
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.