The Aquaculture topic area funds research projects with the overall goal of leading to improved production efficiency and increased competitiveness of private sector, commercial aquaculture in the United States. This topic area aims to develop new technologies that will enhance the knowledge and technology base necessary for the expansion of the domestic aquaculture industry. Seafood production from the wild is under increased pressure due to overfishing, and therefore aquaculture is increasingly an important source of farmed seafood and an important contributor to food security. Studies on commercially important species of fish, shellfish and aquatic plants from both freshwater and marine environments are included. In this context, new technologies are needed to improve production efficiency, protect aquaculture species against disease, and ensure the quality of farmed seafood.
FY 2019 Research Priorities:
To address identified needs or constraints that limit U.S. aquaculture, the following are provided as examples of appropriate subtopics for research applications from small businesses, including, but not limited to, the following:
1. Reproductive Efficiency
Novel or innovative approaches to improve reproductive efficiency in aquaculture species including: greater control of maturation, ovulation and fertilization; improved gamete and embryo storage; improved larval rearing techniques; enhanced reproductive performance of broodstock; improved methods for cryopreservation of sperm and embryos; and methods to control sex determination.
2. Genetic Improvement
Novel or innovative approaches to improve production efficiency through genetic improvement of aquaculture species including: genetic mechanisms of sex determination; genetic basis for inheritance of commercially important traits, such as growth, temperature tolerance, and disease susceptibility; identification of major genes affecting performance; application of molecular biology and genomics and the integration of this technology into breeding programs; and performance evaluation of aquaculture species and utilization of crossbreeding and hybridization.
3. Integrated Aquatic Animal Health Management
Novel or innovative approaches to reducing losses due to aquatic animal health in aquaculture production systems, including: physiological stress related to the aquatic production system environment; genetic, environmental, and nutritional components of aquatic health management; control of predation in aquaculture production systems; development of new vaccines or immunization procedures to enhance resistance to infectious diseases and parasites; development of diagnostic tests for specific diseases that pose a health hazard; and development of improved treatment methods for acute or chronic health problems caused by specific infectious or non- infectious agents, parasites, injuries and chemical and toxic agents.
4. Improved Production Systems and Management Strategies
Novel or innovative approaches to improve existing or alternative production system design and management strategies including: development of biological, engineering and economic design criteria and models; enhancement of water quality in existing production systems through aeration, flow patterns, etc.; characterization, handling and treatment of effluent from aquaculture production systems; improved harvesting methods and strategies; and improved operating efficiencies for recirculation systems.
5. Algal Production Systems
Novel or innovative approaches to improve the efficiency of algal production and feedstock logistics including: identification of new (or improved) species with improved nutritional profile for use in aquaculture feed, human food, or food supplements; development of improved bioreactor technology; and development of new methods for harvesting algal biomass.