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ARS Home » Southeast Area » Auburn, Alabama » Aquatic Animal Health Research » Research » Research Project #437658

Research Project: Integrated Research to Improve Aquatic Animal Health in Warmwater Aquaculture

Location: Aquatic Animal Health Research

Project Number: 6010-32000-027-000-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Jan 27, 2020
End Date: Jan 26, 2025

1. Identify virulence factors critical for pathogenesis of major catfish pathogens to guide the development of novel and cost-effective disease interventions. 1.A. Identify the genes (or their protein products) governing the virulence of Aeromonas hydrophila in catfish. 1.B. Characterize the environmental conditions of perturbations that influence the expression of virulence determinants in Aeromonas hydrophila. 1.C. Elucidate the capsular polysaccharide (CPS) antigenic diversity in Flavobacterium columnare and determine its role in pathogenesis. 2. Improve prevention and control strategies for bacterial and parasitic diseases of catfish and shrimp. 2.A. Evaluate the efficacy of next generation Flavobacterium columnare vaccines and identify the host immune responses that govern protection. 2.B. Determine the extent to which various feed additives (e.g. immunostimulants, toxin binders, etc.) modulate susceptibility of fish and shrimp to industry relevant pathogens. 2.C. Investigate host pathophysiology and performance following parasitic insult.

The catfish industry is the largest sector of U.S. aquaculture and shrimp production represents a growing and important sector. Improving the health of catfish, shrimp, and other warmwater species is important for long-term sustainability of these industries because losses due to disease are a significant impact to production. This project will take a multifaceted approach to accomplish two objectives that address the host, pathogen, and environmental interactions that are critical for improving aquatic animal health in aquaculture. Although Aeromonas (A.) hydrophila and Flavobacterium (F.) columnare have been studied for years, there are still gaps in our knowledge regarding the virulence factors of these pathogens and how environmental conditions alter their virulence. Therefore, Objective 1 will identify the genes governing the virulence of A. hydrophila, characterize environmental conditions that impact virulence amd elucidate the antigenic diversity of the capsular polysaccharide of F. columnare. Furthermore, prevention and control strategies for bacterial and parasitic diseases are limited and there are gaps in knowledge regarding host immune responses against pathogens. Research conducted under Objective 2 will develop new vaccines for F. columnare, determine the effect of feed additives on the susceptibility of fish and shrimp to disease, investigate the effect of parasitic insult on catfish performance and disease susceptibility, and determine the host immune mechanisms involved in protective immunity. The overall impact of this research is a reduction in disease related losses thereby increasing the profitability and production efficiency in the catfish, shrimp and other warmwater aquaculture industries.