Special Edition: Aquaculture feed innovation

KnipBio’s alt protein may support, boost growth in rainbow trout

By Aerin Einstein-Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/Serjio74
© GettyImages/Serjio74
KnipBio’s single-cell protein feed ingredient may allow farmed trout to meet or exceed growth and feed conversion rates set using other alternative proteins or fishmeal.

The Massachusetts-based biotechnology company announced results from the series of feeding trials using its single cell protein-based feed ingredient KnipBio Meal (KBM) with juvenile rainbow trout Tuesday [December 4].

The research projects were part of an ongoing series of efforts evaluating several strains of the company’s single cell protein feed ingredient, said Larry Feinberg, CEO with KnipBio.

The analysis helps provide a focus as strain development continues, he said.

“I really think of this as a funnel,” ​he told FeedNavigator. “Our team is able to generate new strains on a weekly or monthly basis and we’re kind of putting them through the big part of the funnel and using the trials to look through the bottleneck and pick out most promising ones.”

The results build off earlier work​ that the company did with the University of Idaho, which explored the use of the alternative protein feed ingredient in terms of growth and survival.

Research results

In the series of trials, about 5,000 rainbow trout were evaluated using several diets, the company reported.

The test feeds included KnipBio Meal (KBM), poultry meal, fishmeal and soy protein concentrate as the protein ingredients.

When comparing the use of varying levels of KBM to fishmeal in trout diets, the alternative protein was found to be comparable in terms of fish growth and feed efficiency when included at levels up to 15% of the total diet, the company reported.   

In the study, 1,200 juvenile trout were given one of six diets – a control using fishmeal, and four diets with varying degrees of fishmeal and soy protein concentrate replaced with a high-protein strain of KBM at 5, 10, 15, 20 or 30% of the diet, the company said.

The company also tested the protein ingredient against other alternative proteins including poultry meal and soy protein concentrate in a 28-day test, said KnipBio.

In those trials, KBM was found to outperform the other alternative proteins in terms of fish weight gain and tended to show an improvement in terms of feed conversation and specific growth rate.

Going forward the company is planning trials looking at isolating and exploring the potential immuno-nutritional proteins in KBM, added Feinberg.

Progress toward commercialization

In addition to ongoing research trials using the protein feed ingredient, the company also in the progress of moving toward commercial-scale production, said Feinberg.

KnipBio announced in January that it was moving to production at the 20,000L level. Efforts are now underway to increase scale to a 200,000L production facility.

“We continue to make progress,” ​Feinberg said. “We’re adapting to lower price carbon feedstocks that are available – we’re going to probably be at this scale for a little longer [and] we’re taking some of the engineering and fermentation data we’re getting to spec out the actual commercial plant that’s coming down the pipe.”

Part of that effort also includes a joint development agreement (JDA​) signed with the Kansas-based engineering company ICM in April.

“The JDA is going well,” ​he said. “We’re almost exactly on track – we’re about 6-months into the 15-month program.”

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