PROGRESS UPDATES: WP1 interview
Kit Granby, SEAFOODTOMORROW WP1 Leader, Technical University of Denmark (DTU)
Welcome Kit! Please tell us, what is Work Package 1 all about?
In Work Package 1 we examine and innovate eco-sustainable solutions for the European aquaculture production. The aim is to improve seafood quality and contribute to seafood security. We are testing different ingredients that can be used in fish feed. We are focusing on three species; salmon and seabream in northern and southern European marine waters, and carp in regions where there are freshwater farms. We are substituting different concentrations of the fish feed with, e.g. macroalgae (seaweed), selenized yeast and microalgae. We plan to analyze the digestibility and fortification of nutrients (e.g. iodine, selenium, iron and polyunsaturated fatty acids) in the fish flesh and optimize the feed compositions for human aquaculture fish consumption.
We are also developing mathematical models and mapping tools to predict harmful algae toxins, E. coli bacteria and norovirus hazards that will enable shellfish farmers to anticipate these events and prevent contamination of their produce (read more on this work here)
Finally, we are developing three fast screening methods for the management of seafood production systems; an enzyme inhibition assay for xenobiotics; an immunoassay for the marine toxin tetrodotoxin (TTXs) and a biochip for multiple regulated marine toxins.
Fantastic! It sounds like a big undertaking. How will this work benefit us as consumers?
The benefits of partly replacing fish feed with macroalgae, microalgae and selenized yeast is twofold. While addressing the current lack of alternatives to replace the limited resources used for fish feeds, these ingredients can also fortify the fish with essential nutrients for human consumption. For example, macroalgae is rich in iodine, an essential element for humans required for biosynthesis of thyroid hormones. Also, selenium, iron, and polyunsaturated fatty acids are essential nutrients, that can be found in macroalgae, microalgae and selenized yeast. Selenium is cancer preventive, iron prevents anemia (especially important in pregnancy) and polyunsaturated fatty acids are beneficial towards cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases.
How will your predictive models aid shellfish producers?
One of the major challenges facing the European shellfish production sector are harmful algae toxins and norovirus released in coastal waters following pollution incidents. We are using state-of-the-art modelling tools that will improve current forecasts and which will give producers time to prevent contamination at their sites and reduce the need for expensive product recalls.
Global warming predicts higher incidences of marine toxins. How will the new methods help seafood, producers?
There is a long lag time associated with chemical methods that are currently used for testing biotoxins and contaminants. Faster screening methods using colourimetric assays or optical biosensors can provide a better overview of toxin contamination and allow for the faster reopening of shellfish production areas. In SEAFOODTOMORROW two approaches are being launched for the detection of marine toxins. In recent years, the biotoxin tetrodotoxin (TTXs), a neurotoxin, has been identified in European bivalve shellfish and currently there is no regulation in place. Our efforts will focus on simplifying a method for TTX extraction from shellfish and optimizing an immunoassay for its detection. We are also developing an optical biochip for multiple marine toxins (e.g. okadaic acid and dinophysistoxins, azaspiracids and analogues, domoic acid, and saxitoxins and analogues) that are currently regulated. We have selected different antibodies for the chip and the design of a prototype is being developed. The goal is to develop a low-cost platform to be deployed in the field, that is easy to use and with the best possible sensitivity and robustness. We are also developing a screening tool (enzyme inhibition assay) for the detection of the environmental contaminants e.g. polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), brominated flame retardants (BFRs) and perfluorinated compounds (PFCs) in seafood samples from contaminated sites, or in catches or consignments that are suspected to be contaminated.
All in all, we aim to make the best use of the sea’s resources, ensuring that seafood products are unequivocally healthy, delicious and safe!
WP1 includes partners from AZTI, Cefas, DTU, ICR, IPMA, IRTA, Moreforsking, Skaloma, Sparos, Tarelaks (and Sulefisk, Engesund, Osland Havbruk), QUB, WCM, Xenobics and ZUT.
Amazing. Thank you very much for taking the time to tell us about your research within SEAFOODTOMORROW.