2008/768 Seafood innovation through molecular biology
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2008/768 Seafood innovation through molecular biology


By Shane Powell



Until the 1990s, when it became possible to access and analyse DNA directly from the environment, the study of microbiology was limited to studying microbes that were able to be grown in artificial culture. The advent of DNA-based methods provided a way to access and study the enormous diversity of microbes that actually exist. Some fields of microbiology were quicker to take up this technology than others. Microbiological analyses carried out in industrial settings have, although this is changing, remained culture-based because they are standard methods required by regulators. They tend to be technically straight-forward and inexpensive. The goal of the Seafood Molecular Biologist position was to apply DNA-based techniques to a range of existing problems within the seafood industry. The three projects developed covered shellfish aquaculture, the processing of Atlantic Salmon and supply chains in the wild prawn fishery.


The biologist worked on projects with the following objectives:

  1. Identify specific microbial causes of oyster larval infection, determine microbial species that can reduce their presence and viability, and define environmental conditions that influence their presence in hatchery operations.
  2. Define specific spoilage organisms that impact the quality of processed fresh fish, define processing conditions and intervention strategies that influence their presence, and identify microbial species that can competitively exclude spoilage organisms.
  3. Characterise the spoilage communities in prawn supply chains.