Biotechnology for Aquaculture: From chemical to biological

With the aim of bringing biotechnology closer to industry, SOFOFA Hub’s Center for Translational Biotechnology organized the virtual meeting “Biotechnology for Aquaculture: from chemical to biological”, an initiative put forth by Sofofa HUB, with the support of Salmonexpert as media partner, which summoned companies from the salmon farming industry, researchers and professionals, to discuss the challenges, market needs and regulation in this sector.

The event was led by the deputy director of technology of Sofofa Hub’s Center for Translational Biotechnology (CBT), Tomas Mardones, who valued the activity considering that salmon farming “is a special area in Chile, because it is one of the few industries where we are globally positioned; therefore, there is an incentive to innovate.”

In the same vein, the first speaker, Derie Fuentes, Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems manager at Fraunhofer Chile, discussed the impact of salmon farming on the environment, biodiversity and carrying capacity: “Little has been said about how the environment affects productivity, and this is an idea that has been discussed in more developed countries, where biodiversity is being viewed as a production asset.”

The executive presented a way to include biodiversity as part of a productive structure and thus measure living organisms in an ecosystem: “If we understand that there is an interrelationship between these factors, we must conclude that what we do in that environment will influence how it responds. And not only on the chemical side, but on the biological side, which will have an impact on production”.

Fuentes noted that this would be a great contribution to the salmon farming industry “which has accumulated experience regarding its productive burden; however, it is still necessary to calculate the site’s environmental burden capacity; appraise the biodiversity; measure actual impacts; and determine the environmental burden of each sector, to subsequently establish the best sites to relocate the aquaculture industry in the upcoming years”.

Biological products

For her part, Ictio Biotechnologies’ general manager, Gerladin Mylnarz, addressed the chemical-reduction trend in the treatment of salmonid diseases, such as caligidosis and piscirickettsiosis (SRS), in a manner that is line with sustainable development; a context within which, as a company, “drove us to seek biological tools, ultimately deciding to explore biotherapeutics”.

Mylnarz explained the two biological projects Ictio is working on to support the industry: IctioBiotic, a lyophilized immunostimulant probiotic against bacteria and viruses, which they expect to have on sale by the end of the year, as well as a biologically derived antiparasitic against salmon caligidosis, which could work against the Norwegian sea louse, and which is composed only of proteins.


Meanwhile, Intesal’s general manager, Esteban Ramirez, spoke about biotechnology and the salmon farming industry’s challenges, specifically regarding the gaps for its introduction, but also about the great opportunity this technology presents to tackle the problems faced by this industry and other areas.

In that context, Ramirez detailed a series of advances that biotechnology would make possible “such as the development of new biosynthetic materials; seabed bioremediation; plant foods with usable omega-3; genetic selection and editing; veterinary products, as well as the measurement and monitoring of environmental DNA”,  adding that the industries’ existing gaps “evidence a tremendous space for development for this technology”.


Finally, the Deputy Director of Aquaculture of the National Service of Fisheries and Aquaculture (Sernapesca), Marcela Lara, commented on the applicable regulations, in light of the introduction of biological technologies: “It is a chain that includes public institutions, sector-specific professionals, laboratories, universities, researchers, crop center operators and production companies”.

The Authority addressed the Aquaculture Health Management Program (PGSA), portraying it as a successful case in which valuable SRS and caligidosis data was obtained, “with publicly available results to improve the sector’s good practices through new diagnostic alternatives”.