Plant Mol Biol 83:33–40 (2013)

DOI 10.1007/s11103-013-0081-9

How can plant genetic engineering contribute to cost-effective fish vaccine development for promoting sustainable aquaculture?  

Clarke Jihong, Waheed Mohammad Tahir, Andreas G. Lössl, Inger Martinussen, Henry Daniell

Aquaculture, the fastest growing food-produc- ing sector, now accounts for nearly 50 % of the world’s food fish (FAO in The state of world fisheries and aqua- culture. FAO, Rome, 2010 ). The global aquaculture pro- duction of food fish reached 62.7 million tonnes in 2011 and is continuously increasing with an estimated produc- tion of food fish of 66.5 million tonnes in 2012 (a 9.4 % increase in 1 year, FAO). Aquaculture is not only important for sustainable protein- based food fish production but also for the aquaculture industry and economy worldwide. Disease prevention is the key issue to maintain a sustainable development of aquaculture. Widespread use of antibiotics in aquaculture has led to the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the accumulation of antibiotics in the environment, resulting in water and soil pollution. Thus, vaccination is the most effective and environmentally-friendly approach to combat diseases in aquaculture to manage fish health. Furthermore, when compared to more than 760 vaccines against human diseases, there are only about 30 fish vaccines commercially available, suggesting the urgent need for development and cost-effective production of fish vaccines for managing fish health, especially in the fast growing fish farming in Asia where profit is minimal and therefore given high priority. Plant genetic engineering has made signifi- cant contributions to production of biotech crops for food, feed, valuable recombinant proteins etc. in the past three decades. The use of plants for vaccine production offers several advantages such as low cost, safety and easy scal- ing up. To date a large number of plant-derived vaccines, antibodies and therapeutic proteins have been produced for human health, of which a few have been made commer- cially available. However, the development of animal vaccines in plants, especially fish vaccines by genetic engineering, has not yet been addressed. Therefore, there is a need to exploit plant biotechnology for cost effective fish vaccine development in plants, in particular, edible crops for oral fish vaccines. This review provides insight into (1) the current status of fish vaccine and vaccination in aqua- culture, (2) plant biotechnology and edible crops for fish vaccines for oral administration, (3) regulatory constraints and (4) conclusions and future perspectives.

Keywords: Aquaculture, Food security, Fish vaccine, Plant genetic engineering, Regulatory constraints

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Andreas Lössl, 2011