A probiotic supplement that has been proven to boost larval oyster survival by 20 to 35 percent is ready for manufacturing but the path to commercialization may not be that easy.
Probiotic OY15, a benign strain of Vibrio bacteria found in the oyster gut, was developed by microbiologist Diane Kapareiko and her team at NOAA Fisheries Milford Laboratory in Milford, Connecticut. Their goal was to help oyster hatchery managers boost the survival of Eastern Oyster (Crassostrea virginica) larvae and seed, and improve their defenses against bacteria.
It is a promising drug, but Tom Hashman, director of business development for Envera, said there are hurdles for getting the Food and Drug Administration to approve any probiotic, and a Vibrio-based bacteria might present additional hurdles.
While this particular Vibrio strain is confirmed benign and has shown it can be a “good” bacteria that boosts the oyster’s immune system and is safe for humans to handle, harmful Vibrio strains known to be human pathogens can cause serious illness and be fatal if an immune-compromised person ingests them or is infected through a cut in their skin while swimming in seawater.
Kapareiko says a partner is now being sought to produce the probiotic on a commercial scale. “If it were to go commercial, in a perfect world, if we had a company that said yes and went forward with commercializing it, it could possibly be another couple of years before it reaches the market,” she said.