DARWIN obtains a CREATEC project to develop probiotics for aquaculture

Funding: Grant for a Technology-Based Business Creation Project (CREATEC-CV 2018) (file IMCBTA/2018/8), funded by Institut Valencià de Competitivitat Empresarial (IVACE) co-financed with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Amount: 67,223.24 €.


The increase in the global demand for fish implies the need of sustainable development in the aquaculture industry. To this end, the development of diets that include probiotic supplements has great potential, and contributes to reducing the use of antibiotics in this sector. Probiotics are live food supplements that have positive effects on health, for example, by supporting the digestive process or stimulating the immune system. In addition, many probiotics have the ability to inhibit the growth of certain pathogenic microorganisms that cause infectious diseases, which are the main cause of economic losses in aquaculture.


DARWIN aims to contribute to solving these challenges by selecting and characterizing probiotic strains for fish from the massive screening of its proprietary collection of microorganisms. This collection contains more than 120 different potentially probiotic microbial strains, non-pathogenic to humans and fish, isolated from a wide variety of natural samples, including human and fish intestine.


To date, a large number of fish pathogens have been described and, for the present project, DARWIN has selected those that cause infectious diseases not only in the three main fish species produced in Spain (sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax; rainbow trout, Oncorhynchus mykiss; and sea bream, Sparus aurata), but also in other fish species produced and marketed worldwide. Specifically, the pathogens to be studied are: Tenacibaculum maritimum, Yersinia ruckeri, Aeromonas salmonicida, Pseudomonas fluorescens, Vagococcus salmoninarum and Vibrio harveyi. These six pathogens have been selected because: they are representative at least of five different diseases affecting both freshwater and saltwater fish.


DARWIN’s goal with this study is to decrease economic losses associated with infectious diseases and reduce antibiotic use in aquaculture systems. As for the commercial impact on DARWIN, it will allow the development of rapid screening not only of fish probiotics against emerging pathogens, but also of other potential probiotics (e.g., probiotics for human use). A good in vitro screening system is essential, mainly because of its speed (versus in vivo assays) and because it allows mass screening and selection of candidate probiotics before moving to the in vivo assay phase.


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Co-financed by the European Union