One in five people on the planet depend on fish as their primary protein source, and by the year 2020, the world will require an estimated 23 million more tons of farm-raised fish to feed our ever-growing population. We’ve overexploited our natural fisheries and our current feeds are both expensive and nutritionally incomplete. Both the World Health Organization and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization have articulated the critical need for alternative sources of healthy protein for farm-raised fish. With fewer wild feeder fish available, like anchovies and herring, many aquaculture farms rely on soy, corn-based protein and chemically derived products often leading to ill effects: bloating, stomach inflammation and altogether sub-optimal fish.
Lowell, Massachusetts, based KnipBio, in cooperation with the New England Aquarium, the University of Massachusetts at Boston, Roger Williams University, og USDA Agriculture Research Service, has developed a particular single cell protein which may replace wild caught fish and agricultural products as ingredients in salmon feed.
A study called “A transdisciplinary approach to the initial validation of a single cell protein as an alternative protein source for use in aquafeeds” outlines their approach, and here is an abstract from the study:
The human population is growing and, globally, we must meet the challenge of increased protein needs required to feed this population. Single cell proteins (SCP), when coupled to aquaculture production, offer a means to ensure future protein needs can be met without direct competition with food for people. To demonstrate a given type of SCP has potential as a protein source for use in aquaculture feed, a number of steps need to be validated including demonstrating that the SCP is accepted by the species in question, leads to equivalent survival and growth, does not result in illness or other maladies, is palatable to the consumer, is cost effective to produce and can easily be incorporated into diets using existing technology.
Here we examine white shrimp ( Litopenaeus vannamei ) growth and consumer taste preference, smallmouth grunt ( Haemulon chrysargyreum ) growth, survival, health and gut microbiota, and Atlantic salmon ( Salmo salar ) digestibility when fed diets that substitute the bacterium Methylobacterium extorquens at a level of 30% (grunts), 100% (shrimp), or 55% (salmon) of the fishmeal in a compound feed .
In each of these tests, animals performed equivalently when fed diets containing M. extorquens as when fed a standard aquaculture diet. This transdisciplinary approach is a first validation of this bacterium as a potential SCP protein substitute in aquafeeds. Given the ease to produce this SCP through an aerobic fermentation process, the broad applicability for use in aquaculture indicates the promise of M. extorquens in leading toward greater food security in the future.
A transdisciplinary approach to the initial validation of a single cell protein as an alternative protein source for use in aquafeeds (PDF Download Available). Click here.