NEWS AND EVENTS

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

 

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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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