The international research and innovation institution WorldFish began a partnership with KYTOS, a technology start-up company developing management solutions at the frontier of technological innovation, to conduct research and development (R&D) in the field of aquaculture microbiome, particularly for carp polyculture and tilapia farming systems.
Cutting-edge high-throughput tools are providing the aquaculture sector with biological insights offering new opportunities to better understand the microbiomes of farmed aquatic animals and the waters in which they grow.
WorldFish Project Leader, Colin Shelley, explained that “the better we understand the complex interactions between microbes associated with the aquatic species farmed, other organisms present in the system and the aquatic environment itself, the easier it will be in the future to make appropriate interventions to improve productivity and minimize disease incidence”.
“This work will underpin the next generation of best management practices, generating enormous amounts of data, which can be used to drive future interactive decision-making systems for farmers,” he added.
The potential to transform aquaculture practices across the value chain
For his part, Ruben Props, KYTOS Co-founder and CEO, said that “the organizations, such as WorldFish and individual aquaculture companies can build their own in-house microbiome knowledge bases, which through our artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have the potential to transform aquaculture practices across the entire value chain”.
“In his work with the prawn farming sector, he assured, “we’ve already shown how routine microbiome health insights can help identify and mitigate potential disease events in ponds and underpin improved hatchery operations.”
On the significance of this collaboration, Shelley elaborated that “the Foundation has encouraged us to drive the transformation of the aquaculture sector at scale. Investing in cutting edge technology, partnering with new start-ups like KYTOS and embracing an innovative approach to aquatic food systems development with our global partners is what we do.”
WorldFish and KYTOS are in discussions with regard to future collaboration in R&D.
Aquatic food systems science into scalable solutions
WorldFish is an international, nonprofit research and innovation institution that creates, advances, and translates aquatic food systems science into scalable solutions. “Our mission is to end hunger and advance progress on the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals through science and innovation to transform food, land, and water systems with aquatic foods for healthier people and the planet”, they say.
WorldFish is part of CGIAR, the world’s largest agricultural research and innovation network.
“For over 45 years, WorldFish’s data, evidence, and insights have shaped practices, policies, and investments to end hunger and advance sustainable development in low- and middle-income countries.”
The institution have a global presence across 20 countries in Asia, Africa, and the Pacific, with 460 staff of 30 nationalities deployed “where the most significant sustainable development challenges can be addressed through holistic aquatic food systems solutions”.
Embedded in local, national, and international partnerships, their work sets agendas, builds capacities, and supports decision-making for climate action, food and nutrition security, sustainable fisheries and aquaculture, blue economy, One Health, and AgriTech, integrating gender, youth, and social inclusion.
This is a core element of the 2030 WorldFish Research and Innovation Strategy: Aquatic Foods for Healthy People and Planet is focused on building the resilience of aquatic food systems to shocks, which is critical to covid-19 response and recovery.
“For its part, KYTOS is a microbiome technology start-up company developing microbiome management solutions at the frontier of technological innovation.“
They have their origins in the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) at Ghent University, in Belgium, from which they build on decades of world-leading expertise in the management of microbial communities.
“We transform our partners into expert microbiome health stewards by empowering them with a unique blend of data science, technology and microbial ecology insights.” They have a strong focus on agri- and aquaculture applications, but also a large portfolio in fermentation, drinking- and process water and niche sectors as well.