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Utilization of agar extraction by-product from Gelidium spp. as an alternative ingredient for aquafeeds: Towards the circular economy and the sustainability

Grant number: 24/00151-3
Support Opportunities:Scholarships abroad - Research Internship - Post-doctor
Effective date (Start): May 01, 2024
Effective date (End): April 30, 2025
Field of knowledge:Agronomical Sciences - Food Science and Technology
Principal Investigator:Ricardo Pinheiro de Souza Oliveira
Grantee:Wellison Amorim Pereira
Supervisor: Maria Helena Tabuaco Rego Martins Peres
Host Institution: Faculdade de Ciências Farmacêuticas (FCF). Universidade de São Paulo (USP). São Paulo , SP, Brazil
Research place: Universidade do Porto (UP), Portugal  
Associated to the scholarship:22/07543-9 - Evaluation of the biotechnological application of new bacteriocinogenic probiotic bacteria: effect on health, antimicrobial action and on the preservation of fish meat (Oreochromis niloticus), BP.PD


The increasing demand for animal protein for human consumption has led to the intensification of production processes, the use of medicines, and agricultural technologies. Currently, gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) is widely produced under intensive aquaculture, generating significant benefits for the industry and improving the economies of many countries. However, the commitment to reduce the proportion of traditional fishery-derived products (fish meal and oil) in aquafeeds has pressured the use of alternative feedstuffs, known to decrease some nutritional and quality traits of seafood. Therefore, it is urgent to develop new feedstuffs that reduce aquafeed industry reliance on fishmeal and fish oil while guaranteeing the adequacy of these feedstuffs to promote zootechnical productivity, fish health and fillet quality. Agro-industrial by-products represent an underutilized resource of nutrients. Through the correct evaluation and feed formulation, these products may be converted into an additional source of nutritious ingredients for aquafeeds that may replace fisheries and traditional agriculture products in aquafeeds. This opens new market opportunities for innovative commodities development for aquafeeds by the valorization of locally produced, underutilized biomass with little or no use as human food. Valorizing macroalgae and its by-products is of high practical interest within the principles of land resources pressure reduction and climate change tackling within the blue bioeconomy context. Macroalgae production is increasing as an environmentally sustainable strategy for carbon sinking but is still undervalued and inefficiently used. Macroalgae have a moderate protein content and are rich in compounds with functional properties, such as antimicrobial, antioxidants, and immunomodulators. These compounds have a high potential for application in aquafeed as novel ingredients to boost fish performance, nutrient digestibility, and immunological or oxidative status resistance. Aquafeed incorporating these innovative macroalgae ased products will support aquaculture sustainability and the blue economy. Therefore, this study aims to unlock the full potential of agar extraction by-product from Gelidium spp as novel feed ingredient. This innovative ingredient will be tested in gilthead seabream, that play a major role in the European aquaculture sector, assessing its impact on zootechnical performance, nutritional and oxidative status, and intestinal function. This study will contribute to a low-carbon, circular blue economy (United Nations Sustainable Development Goal, SDG 12) and to provide a high-quality food for human consumption (SDG1 and 2) by maximizing fish production through the development of ecofriendly aquafeeds, with reduced environmental impacts (SDG14) and contributing to decarbonization (SDG13). It will also create new employment opportunities and income for coastal rural communities (SDG8) that may become engaged in seaweeds collection and macroalgae production.

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