Commercialisation of marine science discoveries: The successes and the challenges
Prof. Grant Burgess
Newcastle University, United Kingdom
Integrated aquaculture in arid environments
WaterFarmers Aquaponics, Belgium
Around one third of the globe is classified as desert or arid (<200mm rain annually) and most such regions lack food security. Freshwater aquaculture is often a marginal activity and competes with agriculture for limited water resources. Opportunities exist however for integration of aquaculture with vegetable and fruit production. Aquaponics systems combine aquaculture and hydroponic plant production and are integrated within a closed-loop system. Fish waste metabolites are used as plant nutrients, including toxic ammonia and nitrites which are oxidized to harmless nitrates. Operation of conventional aquaponics systems can however lead to problems in synchronising the fish and vegetable production cycles during start-up and harvest. This can reduce farm productivity. Decoupling of these cycles gives the farmer greater control but requires additional water treatment for the separation and breakdown of solids and oxidation of nitrogenous waste. Various novel systems are now in use to optimise water treatment and mineral availability as farmers seek to reduce their energy needs and overall production costs. Biofloc technologies are also being developed to treat re-cycled water in aquaponics systems and to provide an additional food source for some fish and shrimp species. Suspended biofloc particles develop under conditions of full aeration and controlled carbon to nitrogen ratios. They consist of algae, bacteria, protozoa and particulate organic matter held in a loose matrix. They are protein-rich, have probiotic properties and the potential to reduce feed costs. Aquaponics provides new opportunities for small and medium enterprises. Well-designed systems occupy a small footprint, optimise the use of resources and can be built close to population centres. This paper reviews the current development of commercial aquaponics against the background of food security needs in arid regions.
From chemical ecology to marine biotechnology: Case studies, the development of new antifouling strategies
Prof. Claire Hellio
Brest University, France
The growing demand to develop a novel, environmentally friendly antifouling (AF) or bioadhesive material is ever increasing. Bioinspiration is an attractive alternative in developing such a material, learning from nature’s own designs and solutions and transferring them to solve particular problems. In order to achieve this goal, the actual mechanisms and strategies that evolution has produced needs to be elucidated from the subject species.
The work presented in this talk, regarding new antifouling product, has investigated successfully chemical ecology (macroalgae and sponges), the role of microflora in the production fo defense molecules, seasonality of the production of defences molecules, and defences synergy. The role of surface topography and chemistry combined in a single material, a property that exists naturally in some common macroalgae, has been as well investigated and led to promising results.
The second part of this talk will focus on bioadhesion strategies used by marine organisms and how from fundamental studies, we have develop a new bioassay for testing the activity of compounds in inhibition or promotion of algal adhesion.
Environmental DNA - Spyglass into aquatic biological diversity
James Cook University, Australia
All organisms as they go about their activities shed cells containing DNA. This DNA generally persists in the environment for only short periods of time (termed environmental DNA, or eDNA) and represents a forensic genetic signature of the organism having occupied a habitat. The use of eDNA as a tool is revolutionizing how scientists detect rare and invasive species, often providing earlier timeframes of detection than traditional approaches. eDNA technology, coupled with next-generation sequencing, is also rapidly moving towards being able in a single assay identify whole biological communities. In this presentation the power of eDNA as a research tool to survey biological communities will be highlighted, along with some case studies of where the technology has been recently used at JCU to detect invasive fishes, rare sawfish and aquaculture pathogens.