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Getting the Most out of Aquaculture: Pearls of Wisdom from Farmed Oysters


Research to be presented at the APS comparative physiology meeting in San Diego

As global populations rise, so does the demand for seafood. In developed nations, the health benefits of a diet high in fish and seafood are regularly touted. In developing nations, fish and seafood often comprise a large portion of the diet.

Aquaculture—farming of fishes, mollusks, crustaceans and plants in an aquatic environment—is a booming business (approximately $119 billion in the US in 2010) and the fastest growing form of global food production. It holds promise for both satisfying our taste for seafood and combatting global food insecurity.

Sarah Andrewartha et al. at CSIRO Integrated Sustainable Aquaculture Production and the University of Tasmania are studying oysters for clues into how environmental conditions and stressors affect their ability to grow and thrive.

“We’re remotely monitoring changes in oyster heart-rate and feeding behavior with small biosensors. The oysters wearing biosensors act as sentinels and provide real-time information on how oysters are responding to changing environmental conditions or farm stressors,” Dr. Andrewartha said. “They provide us with laboratory data that relate heart rate to overall energy use on-farm.”

Oysters are a popular target species for aquaculture and are farmed internationally. Determining how they respond to temperature, water depth and light levels could help improve understanding of how they and other animals raised through aquaculture will react to changing conditions and adapt to their environment.

Their research adds to the growing body of work focused on understanding the conditions that enable target aquaculture species to flourish.

Andrewartha will present the talk “Real-time physiology: Can it assist aquaculture productivity” at the American Physiological Society (APS) intersociety meeting “Comparative Approaches to Grand Challenges in Physiology” (October 5–8, 2014, in San Diego). “During my talk, I’ll discuss the need for biosensors in aquaculture, collection of ground-truth data and two applications where biosensors are currently being used on-farm,” she added.

APS jointly hosts this intersociety meeting with the Society for Experimental Biology, Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology, Australian and New Zealand Society for Comparative Physiology and Biochemistry, Canadian Society of Zoologists, Crustacean Society and International Society for Neuroethology. View the full program:

NOTE TO JOURNALISTS: To receive a full list of abstracts to be presented at the meeting or to arrange interviews with comparative researchers, please contact Stacy Brooks in the APS Office of Communications (301-634-7209;

Physiology is the study of how molecules, cells, tissues and organs function in health and disease. Established in 1887, the American Physiological Society (APS) was the first U.S. society in the biomedical sciences field. The Society represents more than 11,000 members and publishes 14 peer-reviewed journals with a worldwide readership.

Stacy Brooks | newswise

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