ZEBRALGRE: From zebrafish to meagre: use of macro- and microalgae as functional feeds
The project undertakes multidisciplinary research in order to contribute to the development of sustainable aquaculture in Portugal. The diversification of aquaculture species is essential for the development of a competitive industry, and meagre has become one of the most attractive candidates for diversification, due to its excellent biological characteristics, high rates of growth, feed conversion and fertility.
The increasing of intensive culture of meagre is at risk from a range of common disease agents, such as bacterial, that impact on other species production. During the last years, attention has been focused on marine organisms as a source of substances of therapeutic interest for the prevention and prophylaxis of farmed fish diseases, reducing the use of antibiotics.
The main objective of the present project is combining the advantages of macro- and microalgae bioactive compounds for inclusion as functional feeds in fish diet. Several autochthonous macro- and microalgae extracts are characterized in terms of bioactivity and their effects on fish growth and health are explored, in order to serve as a basis for further research on the use of selected algae biomass as functional ingredients in fish feed formulations and, ultimately for product commercial development.
Thus, the project is divided into two main research lines: production and characterization of macro- and microalgae, as well as the study of their biological activities in vitro, using cell cultures; and, on the other hand, evaluation of the effect of the diet algae incorporation on growth performance and immune status of meagre, taking advantages of zebrafish as experimental animal model. Validation of zebrafish as a model in fish nutrition trials allows more cost-effective and less time-consuming studies, contributing to future research. In addition, it is expected to gain a great deal of information on meagre genomics, a resource that will be useful for future studies with this valuable species.