NIFA offers $1.2m for aquaculture, feed research

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis contact

- Last updated on GMT

 © GettyImages/alex_skp
© GettyImages/alex_skp
Fish feed, functional feed additives, aquaculture practices and production sustainability are among the areas of focus for a new round of grant funding on offer from NIFA.

The US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute for Food and Agriculture (NIFA) announced it will be collecting applications through May 17. The goal of the grant​ program is to help support the expansion and profitability of the aquaculture industry in the US.

“The purpose of the aquaculture research program is to support the development of an environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture industry in the US and generate new science-based information and innovation to address industry constraints,”​ the institute said.

Research projects proposals should address issues that act as constraints to the aquaculture industry and that are applied research projects, NIFA said. The four main focus areas being considered include efforts to improve the environmental or economic sustainability of aquaculture production; work on major diseases affecting the industry; the genetics of commercial species; and research to improve the profitability of aquaculture production.

“Applied research in genetics, disease, production systems, and economics is needed to develop practical solutions that will facilitate growth of the US aquaculture industry,” ​the institute said. “This research will help reduce the US trade deficit in seafood products and enhance the capacity of the US aquaculture industry to contribute to domestic and global food security and economic growth.”

Past research, current project focuses

Previously funded research projects from the aquaculture-focused grant include efforts to improve fish health, produce oral vaccines and improve economic output of aquaculture systems to offset feed costs.

A research team with the University of Maryland – Baltimore County looked a way to turn an injected vaccine for infectious hematopoietic necrosis virus into an oral vaccine that could be fed to fish fry.

The vaccine was developed into a potential feed additive to improve immunization and potentially establish a method for future vaccine development, the researchers said.

A team at Auburn University in Alabama focused on the use of phytase as a feed additive to improve nutritional uptake in catfish and reduce the excretion of phytic acid. The goal of the project​ was to reduce mortality from a virulent form of Aeromonas hydrophila​, which had been linked to the accumulation of phytic acid in catfish production ponds.

Additional grant details

The grant system is able to provide up to $300,000 for research projects and studies can run for up to two years, NIFA said. The grant program is open to several institutions including state agricultural experiment stations, colleges and universities, research institutes and organizations, federal agencies, private organizations, corporations and individuals.

Projects should include an explanation of how the research project will improve production or profitability in the next 1 to 5 years, said the institute. They also should include how the research can be transferred to end-users.

“Applicants must provide a plan to release research results to the public in a timely manner and provide a description and budgeted plan for the release of research results that is compliant with the terms and conditions that govern USDA NIFA-funded projects in aquaculture,”​ the institute said.

All applications are screened first to establish that they meet requirements and then a technical review panel evaluates the projects, the institute said.

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