Auburn charts path for 21st century vision of U.S. aquaculture

By Paul Hollis

Auburn University’s Aquaponics Working Group has a new vision for U.S. aquaculture, one that includes far more predictability and efficiency than today’s timeworn models of commercial fish production.

“Need is the mother of invention, and that’s what is driving much of this research,” said Jesse Chappell, a member of the group and associate professor and extension specialist in the College of Agriculture’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences.

“We’ve put together a multi-disciplinary team from across campus to cover every aspect of a multi-trophic system of aquaculture production,” Chappell said.

The Aquaponics Working Group recently received the President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units Award at Auburn. In addition to Chappell, members of the team include School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences professor Terry Hanson; Department of Poultry Science professor Tung-shi Huang; Department of Horticulture assistant professor Daniel Wells; Department of Biosystems Engineering assistant professor David Blersch; and Glenn Loughridge, director of Campus Dining.


Congratulations to Terry Hanson –  Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences, Tung-shi Huang –  Poultry Science, Daniel Wells – Horticulture, Glenn Loughridge –  Director of Campus Dining, David Blersch –  Biosystems Engineering,  and Jesse Chappell –  Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences!! They received the President’s Outstanding Collaborative Units Award – Aquaponics Working Group on February 28, 2018 at the AUHCC dinner award event.  Good Work!




Auburn University Aquaponics Program 

Mollie Smith, Auburn University School of Fisheries, explains Auburn University Aquaponics Program and the Auburn University Fisheries Greenhouse goals for Commercial Fish Farming and growing produce through Aquaponics.

Click here to see Video.

Auburn developing vaccine that could be huge catch for the catfish industry

Greensboro catfish farmer Bill Kyser examines a dead catfish from one of his ponds. Kyser said the disease columnaris has cost his family a lot of fish and a lot of money. [Photo Credit: Robert DeWitt | Alabama NewsCenter]

After more than seven years of research and testing, Cova Arias knows the vaccine she developed and patented to immunize catfish against columnaris disease works in a laboratory. She will use $321,000 in U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) funds to answer two questions.

“Does it work in the field, and is it cost-effective,” said Arias, a professor in Auburn University’s School of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Aquatic Sciences. “The answer to both of those questions has to be yes.”

If the answer is yes, Arias, who was awarded the competitive grant in November through the Aquaculture Research Program administered by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, will move a step closer to giving catfish farmers an effective weapon to combat one of the worst threats to commercially produced catfish.

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Alan Wilson, Auburn University

Cova Arias, Auburn University

USDA Invests in Research to Improve Domestic Aquaculture Production

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced grants to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture in the U.S. These awards were made through the Aquaculture Research Program authorized by the Competitive Special and Facilities Research Grants Act, administered by NIFA.

“By 2030, it’s estimated that nearly two-thirds of fish consumed globally will be produced through aquaculture,” said NIFA Director, Sonny Ramaswamy. “It is important to foster a sustainable aquaculture industry in the United States to support nutritional security and job creation in rural America.”

Aquaculture involves the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of freshwater and marine species of fish, shellfish, and aquatic plants. NIFA Aquaculture Research Program grants support the development of a globally competitive and profitable U.S. aquaculture industry through investments that help improve domestic aquaculture production efficiency, sustainability, safety, marketing, information sharing, and access to global science-based information and advanced technologies. NIFA provides leadership in coordinating federal activities related to aquaculture through the Interagency Working Group on Aquaculture, under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Science.

Grants are made through a competitive peer review process involving an external panel of experts. Four FY17 aquaculture grants totaling $1.2 million are recommended for funding:

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $320,883

Auburn University, Auburn, Alabama, $261,613



Photo of a chef working in kitchenAuburn University aquaponics project supplying fresh food for campus dining

On-campus dining has come a long way since the days of mystery meat and stale pizza. Students today enjoy options that can easily rival restaurant-quality meals. A new initiative at Auburn University is taking campus dining to a new level, using a farm-to-table approach to feed the bodies and minds of students.

The aquaponics project–a collaborative effort among the E.W. Shell Fisheries, the College of Agriculture’s Department of Horticulture and the Food Systems Institute–gives students a hands-on educational experience while providing Campus Dining with locally grown food to serve up some of the freshest meals in town.

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Auburn-developed vaccine could help prevent costly catfish disease

By Paul Hollis

Auburn researchers will use an almost $321,000 U.S. Department of Agriculture grant to field-test a novel vaccine that would effectively and economically control one of the most serious bacterial infections in the aquaculture industry today.

Columnaris disease can affect nearly all freshwater fish species and causes millions of dollars in annual losses in the catfish industry alone. The sole columnaris vaccine currently available is only moderately effective, but Auburn University researchers have been working on an improved immunization using bacteria derived from a highly virulent strain of the disease.

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