Aquaculture North America

Chilean biotechnology replaces antibiotics

July 16, 2015
By Erich Luening

In an effort to reduce the use of antibiotics in the Chilean salmon farming industry, researchers in the South American country have developed and patented a biotechnology based on a marine bacteria that can slow the spread of certain salmon pathogens.

            A University of Valparaiso team of scientists worked on the new product for eight years led by Dr. Alejandro Dinamarca who explained the technique is harmless to animals and human beings and it inhibits the communication between the pathogens that have plagued the salmon farming industry in Chile for many years.

            “Unlike antibiotics this approach is innovative in that it does not generate resistance and does not harm the environment,” he said in a statement released by the university earlier this year. “Thus, productivity, food security, and added value is increased.”

            The patented treatment is obtained from an indigenous marine bacteria from the coast and is being applied in the national salmon farming industry while the university is managing the production and commercial operating license for the new biotech.

            Among one of the highlights of the solution is its ability to be added into the manufacturing process of fish feed. “This food additive developed in the university’s Laboratory of Microbial Biotechnology… unlike antibiotics commonly used, in addition to not generate resistance, is non-toxic to fish farming and poses no harm to the environment, and these are their main advantages over the use of antibiotics,” Dinamarca explained.

            Chilean salmon farmers reportedly use 400 times more antibiotics a year than producers in Norway. The concerns over such heavy usage has limited exports to consumers in North America and the European Union.

            A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) warned of the progressive growth in the resistance of certain bacteria to antibiotics used in humans. The study, which collected data from 114 countries, said that the resistance of bacteria to antibiotics occurs on a global scale, and so far has been found in common diseases such as urinary tract infection, septicemia, diarrhea, pneumonia and gonorrhea.

            The university has future plans to work with the private sector to explore further commercial opportunities as well as launch a new technology company based on the patented biotechnology.

— Erich Luening

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