Tuesday’s program began with an introduction to BIOMIN by Herbert Kneissl, Division Marketing Officer at BIOMIN. He highlighted the firm’s long history of academic partnership and research in the field of mycotoxins and gut health performance. Dr. Dieter Moll, Molecular Biology Research Team Leader, provided an overview of the structure and organization of the BIOMIN Research Center, the main platform for the firm’s R&D process.
Attendees then toured BIOMIN Research Center which included visits to seven teams: analytical chemistry, fermentation, molecular biology, cell culture, microbiology, formulation and analytics. The afternoon featured a series of presentations on how mycotoxins and pathogens threaten animal performance along with innovative, natural strategies to mitigate their negative impacts.
Pedro Encarnação, Director Business Development, presented results of studies highlighting negative impacts of mycotoxins on aquaculture species. In general, cold water carnivorous species tend to have higher sensitivities to mycotoxins than warm water omnivorous ones. He highlighted that co-occurrence of mycotoxins is quite common. This poses additional risk to animals since in many cases the combined (synergistic) negative effects of two or more mycotoxins do more harm than each toxin alone. The available studies on various aquaculture species point to a wide range of harmful effects, including liver damage, impaired immune function, impaired performance, reduced protein quality, shorter storage time and higher mortality. While some of the impacts of mycotoxins on aquaculture species are known, he highlighted the need for further research on the topic.
Verena Starkl, Mycotoxin Technical Manager, pointed out that the inclusion of plant-derived matter in aqua feed introduces the risk of mycotoxin exposure to aquaculture. She highlighted the high toxicity of mycotoxins whose negative effects in animal can often be observed at low concentrations, as measured in parts per billion. Sharing the results of the latest BIOMIN Mycotoxin Survey, which reports on the occurrence of 6 major mycotoxins in agricultural commodities commonly used in feed, she revealed that 95% of finished fish feed samples tested positive for one or more mycotoxins. Turning to mitigation strategies, she explained how a successful mycotoxin risk management strategy relies upon different modes of action. Adsorption, or binding, can effectively combat aflatoxins, for example, while other mycotoxins cannot be adsorbed or absorption is considerably less effective. Mycotoxin detoxification through biotransformation uses enzymes to convert harmful mycotoxins into safe, non-toxic metabolites. Finally, bioprotection uses natural ingredients to support the liver and immune system function. The Mycofix® product line relies upon all three modes of action to deliver the most complete mycotoxin risk management available.
Prof. Loc Tran of Nong Lam University, Vietnam, presented the latest research on early mortality syndrome (EMS) in shrimp. Having identified the particular strain of Vibro bacteria responsible for the disease, there is currently no cure for the pathogen causes massive die-offs in shrimp ponds. While there is no single solution to EMS, some probiotic and phytogenic substances have reduced pathogen growth, quorum quenching and lower mortality rates. He recommended greater attention to biosecurity and improvements to broodstock procedures, reduced stocking density for ponds afflicted with EMS and a move to sustainable aquaculture.
Attila Kovács, Product Manager Acidifiers, addressed how to reduce the bacterial challenge in aquaculture using natural substances. Non-therapeutic use of antibiotics in livestock has prompted concerns about the threat of antibiotic-resistant superbugs that could threaten human health. The combination of acidifiers and phytogenic feed additives has shown enhanced effectiveness in combatting pathogens and supporting animal performance. Consisting of natural ingredients, separate in vivo trials involving shrimp and rainbow trout have demonstrated the beneficial effects of Biotronic® Top3 on pathogen control, feed hygiene and growth performance.
Rui Gonçalves, Technical Manager Aquaculture, emphasized the wide dispersion of academic research regarding yeast as an immunostimulant in aquaculture. Studies focus on various modes of action of single, combined or whole cell yeasts that, given their different scopes, are not easily compared. Furthermore, academic studies often address immune system function but fall short when it comes to examining effects on growth rates and final body weight. This oversight means that many yeast additives available involve an unnecessary trade-off between immune stimulation and animal performance. Consequently, caution is warranted in the selection of yeast additives that deliver both immune and performance benefits, such as Levabon® Aquagrow E.
Wednesday’s program began with an on-campus welcome from Prof. Mansour El- Matbouli of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna. Benedict Standen of Plymouth University in the UK showed how probiotics can modulate the gastrointestinal tract and presented the advantages of multi-species probiotics. He presented recent trial results showing performance improvement in tilapia using Aquastar® Growout and discussed several possible mechanisms for the positive outcome.
Barbara Weber, Scientist in Microbiology Research, explained the development of probiotics for aquaculture for both pond and feed application. She identified three ways that probiotics combat pathogens, namely: through antimicrobial activity that inhibits pathogen growth, through competitive exclusion that denies pathogens nutrients needed for survival and growth, and quorum quenching that cuts the communication signals among bacteria thus significantly reducing virulence and hence harm to animals.
Jutta Zwielehner, Product Manager Microbials, discussed how the objectives and probiotic strains used for feed and pond application differ. She outline the use and demonstrated success of the four products in the AquaStar® product line. Feed application aims to improve the intestinal microbial balance while water application promotes bioremediation that alters the microbial community in the rearing environment, degrades organic waste products and eliminates toxic substances and organic odors. Through numerous examples she showed how AquaStar® probiotics are efficient tools in pond management.
Trends in feed formulation and feed technology will center on meeting nutritional demands in the face of resource scarcity, according to Jorge Dias of SPAROS Lda. FAOStat projections indicate that farm-raised seafood will account for 62% of global consumption by 2030. He outlined the costs and challenges of producing high quality, healthy and safe food in an environmentally-sound manner. He highlighted several emerging ingredients in aqua feeds and related potential challenges.
Octavio Castro, Technical Manager Aquaculture, explained the use of phytogenic substances in addressing more efficient use of raw materials, supporting animal health and mitigating environmental impacts. He highlighted a recent trend in the reduction in use of premium materials such as fish meal and fish oil in feeds. He presented study results showing how phytogenics improve gut microflora, increase feed efficiency and adjust digestive secretion that results in better feed efficiency, fewer immunological challenges and lower environmental impact. Following the conference sessions, attendees took a guided tour of the fish trial facilities of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna.