Microbial resource management of aquaculture ecosystems to prevent pathogen invasion

01 January 2018 → 31 December 2021
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Environmental animal biotechnology
    • Environmental biotechnology diagnostics
    • Environmental microorganism biotechnology
Project description

The increasing demand for high-quality protein supplied through aquatic animal products causes
aquaculture to be the fastest growing food production sector in the world. A further sustainable
expansion of the sector is hampered by the frequent outbreak of bacterial diseases. The current
solutions include the use of antibiotics, which is unsustainable due to the development and spread
of antibiotic resistance, and the use of biological control measures (e.g. probiotics), which
currently provide insufficient protection. This urges the need for development of effective,
sustainable management strategies. An integrated approach where the microbial community is
monitored and manipulated has been suggested as a promising solution. Although some studies
have addressed this issue, in depth knowledge on how the microbial community is influencing the
invasion potential of opportunistic bacterial pathogens and in which way the community should be
steered to avoid invasion are lacking.
By means of this project we want to gain insight regarding the invasion susceptibility of
aquaculture systems. We will focus on the diversity of the community, while taking into account
the typical environmental conditions of aquaculture systems and the opportunities that this
provides to opportunistic pathogens. We aim to reveal which community properties are to be
targeted to steer the microbial community, and in this way we will provide a framework for
development of novel management strategies.