Project: Improving aquaculture sustainability by modulating the feed-microbiome-host axis in Fish Acronym ImprovAFish

Acronym ImprovAFish (Reference Number: 85)
Duration 01/09/2020 - 31/08/2023
Project Topic As the human population surges towards 10 billion, the production and consumption of aquaculture products such as fish is expanding. Efficient and environmentally sustainable practices are therefore required to ensure long-term food security. To solve these challenges, attractive solutions include developing new feed ingredients and better broodstock genetics to improve fish production and welfare. Intriguingly, it has been shown that both feed and host genetics can modulate the microbiome of animals and thus influence its integral connection to host phenotype. The ambitious aim of ImprovAFish is to decipher the intimate functional coupling along the feedmicrobiome- host axis in an applied context, with the emphasis on a promising ‘next generation’ functional feed ingredient (beta-mannan) that is known to promote beneficial microbiota in production animals, including promising preliminary data in fish. Our approach is to jointly analyze how diet affects the metabolic function of the host and its microbiome as a single unit of action, using a novel and powerful framework called “holo-omics”. This entails monitoring how changes in enzymes and metabolites produced by microbiota, correlates with uptake and metabolism of nutrients in the gut and liver of the fish. By doing this across life stages, different feeds and with recordings of key performance indices, we aim to identify exploitable interactions between specific feed components and microbiome functions that can be used to improve fish phenotype. In addition, associations between broodstock genetic variation, microbiome composition and diet will be determined, which will facilitate selection for fish with preferred gut microbiota. Ultimately ImprovAFish will facilitate optimization of improved and sustainable feeding strategies that are specifically tailored to host genetics (or vice versa), with an emphasis on socially responsible outcomes facilitated by a dedicated Responsible Research and Innovation process.
Project Results
(after finalisation)
ImprovAFish will unlock the potential of microbiomes, by formulating and testing innovative feed ingredients, analyzing their effect on the host animal and their microbiome as well as the available genetic broodstock resources. Our solutions will be amenable to upscaling and aims to bring to market new knowledge-intensive products and computational services. Specifically, the main results from ImprovAFish are that it will: 1. Discover interactions between uncharacterized and as-yet uncultured salmon microbiota that dictate feed digestion and gut homeostasis at different development stages, including those that are indigenous to the pyloric caeca. 2. Holistically assess the novel prebiotic feed ingredient beta-mannan, and create information that connects various microbial metabolic activities to actual phenotypic outcomes in the host fish. 3. Identify salmon with specific genotypes that are associated with inherent beneficial microbiota and are more productive and /or ERA-NET BlueBio ImprovAFish - ID: 85 11 of 48 amendable to dietary interventions. 4. Providecomputational protocols to next-generation breeding schemes to identify salmon broodstock with optimized microbiome compositions and to intelligently match diets with the hologenotype of the farmed salmon broodstock. 5. Generate insights into the efforts needed to establish a social licence to operate in salmon aquaculture research. These insights will be of interest to other research consortia, policymakers and societal stakeholders and to the entire BlueBio Network. 6. Ultimately create versatile methodological toolkits, which will be published in industrially-relevant reports and scientific papers, so that they are reproducible for current industrial partners as well as future salmon industrial/academic studies that seek to examine broodstocks, alternative dietary and/or environmental conditions to improve animal growth and health. Moreover, it will be freely available and can be applied in theory to any food production system that relies on the co-interaction of animals and their gut microorganisms.
Website visit project website
Network BlueBio
Call 1st BlueBio Joint Call

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 Norwegian University of Life Sciences Coordinator Norway
2 University of Copenhagen Copenhagen Partner Denmark
3 Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences Partner Sweden
4 Akva Group AS, KYRKSÆTERØRA Partner Norway
5 EWOS Innovation AS Partner Norway
6 Oslo Metropolitan University (Oslo Met), Work Research Institute, Partner Norway
7 National University of Ireland Partner Ireland