Location: Aquatic Animal Health Research
Project Number: 6010-32000-027-001-S
Project Type: Non-Assistance Cooperative Agreement
Start Date: Aug 1, 2016
End Date: Jul 31, 2022
The objective of this project is to develop and implement practical, non-antibiotic solutions for reducing losses due to virulent strains of Aeromonas hydrophila (vAh) in the domestic aquaculture industry in the near term (<5 years). These solutions may include one or more of the following: vaccination, alternative chemical regimens, improved dietary formulations, enhanced genetic disease resistance of fish stocks, and innovative approaches to on-farm pathogen control and biosecurity. A holistic approach which collectively engages with the tightly integrated factors of fish health, pathogen dynamics, and environmental quality (water, algae, bird predation, etc.) is needed to not only reduce risks from vAh, but also positively impact the viability and profitability of the industry.
The severity and acute nature of vAh outbreaks have dramatically increased the use of (and reliance on) antibiotics in the U.S. farm-raised catfish industry. Working closely with the research group at Auburn University (School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences, Auburn University), we will harness a variety of basic and applied approaches to understand and enhance/exploit mechanisms of natural resistance to vAh. The cooperator has developed a unique combination of tools and resources that make them invaluable partners to ARS in addressing the vAh epidemic. These include molecular expertise (genome/transcriptome/microbiome analyses), replicated culture systems (in-pond raceways), and existing, close ties to farmer-cooperators at both the hatchery and food-fish stages of production. Accordingly, ARS will be responsible for development of non-antibiotic solutions aimed at reducing vAh incidence. This will entail aquaria-based evaluation of diets, therapeutants, vaccines, and genetic strains (families) of fish in the context of vAh experimental challenges. The cooperator will be responsible for complementary studies examining mechanisms of protection or resistance as well as implementation of field evaluation studies in raceway units and/or ponds both at Auburn University and in the commercial catfish industry. This approach jointly utilizes the present strengths of both ARS and the cooperator in a manner that should expedite the control of vAh.