LOS BAÑOS, Laguna– Marine biologists at the University of Santo Tomas have developed a technology that can detect early infection of pervasive bacteria that thrives in marine waters and causes the early mortality syndrome (EMS) in shrimps.
In a media forum at the Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (PCAARRD) of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) here Monday, Dr. Mary Beth B. Maningas of the Department of Biological Science of the University of Santo Tomas (UST) presented the results of a PCAARRD-funded project titled, “Pathobiology and Development of Molecular Detection Kit for acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) or early mortality syndrome (EMS) causing bacteria in the Philippines.”
“AHPND is caused by Vibrio parahaemolyticus, a pervasive bacterium that thrives in marine water,” she said. “(T)his disease causes lethargy, an empty stomach, pale hapatopancreas and empty midgut.”
Maningas, the project leader, said the disease has caused major economic loss in cultured shrimp production in China (2009), Vietnam (2010), Malaysia (2011), Thailand (2012), Mexico (2014) and recently in the Philippines.
“In the country, the disease is detected in Bataan, Bulacan, Cebu, Bohol, Sarangani and General Santos. In one site in Bataan, 73 percent of farms were found positive of AHPND,” she said.
She said that currently, the country has a diagnostic tool for white syndrome shrimp virus (WSSV) called Juan Amplification or the JAmp Detection Kit, with product trademark registration.
To detect AHPND, a prototype diagnostic kit and heat block using loop mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP) was developed and tested.
“The technology is easy to set up on site, easy to use and is cost-efficient for only PHP 300 per test that allows amplification within an hour at one temperature,” she said.
She said LAMP is 10 times more highly sensitive compared with polymerase chain reaction (PCR), making it more advantageous in terms of field applicability, visual detection and ease of operation.
When asked how the shrimps affected with disease affect humans when consumed, she said, “there is no known effect yet in humans who consumed the affected shrimps but rather results in the economic loss among farmers and pond owners.”
According to Maningas, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in 2013 declared that the shrimp aquaculture industry has a global market demand of PHP 1.3 trillion where PHP 1.6 trillion is from Asia. Around PHP 25 billion serviceable and obtainable markets are in the Philippines.
“Diseases hinder the growth of the shrimp industry,” she stressed adding that the Philippines used to be the 3rd largest shrimp producer for Tiger prawn and White shrimp in the world.
However, with the outbreak of diseases, the country slid to the 6th position. (PNA)