U.S. consumers represent the largest shrimp
market in the world, and consumer demand continues to grow
significantly each year. From 1998 to 2002, shrimp consumption
in the United State grew 25 percent, and per capita consumption
reached a record 3.7 pounds in 2002. In fact, U.S. consumers
now eat more shrimp than canned tuna!
Despite this incredible demand, domestic production of shrimp
is low, resulting in a $3 billion federal trade deficit in shrimp
products. Increasing the domestic supply of wild-caught shrimp
is unlikely due to high costs and over fishing, so consumers
are looking to aquaculture to satisfy their insatiable hunger
for pink crustaceans.
Scientists at OI, an affiliate of HPU, are conducting
shrimp aquaculture research and hope to contribute to the establishment
of an environmentally sustainable and economically viable domestic
shrimp farming industry. For example, with funding from the
U.S. Department of Commerce, OI and its research partners are
developing a recirculating production system which prevents
the introduction of virulent pathogens into the shrimp culture
environment while simultaneously protecting the outside environment
from the negative impacts associated with effluent discharge.
Importantly, this new production system will allow farmers
to produce shrimp in such places as Colorado or Wisconsin,
far away from sensitive coastal areas. As part of this integrated
research program, OI scientists are studying shrimp genetics,
nutrition, microbial ecology, and systems engineering. HPU
students who want to participate in this research program through
summer internships should e-mail OI director Gary Karr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In another project funded by the U.S.D.A., OI scientists
are working with researchers from the University of Connecticut
to develop transgenic shrimp which produce
cecropin, an antimicrobial peptide that was first discovered in the silk moth.
Due to its unique structural features, cecropin is effective in killing a variety
of viruses, bacteria, and fungi, all of which are pathogenic to shrimp. This
research is especially important because shrimp farmers have suffered significant
economic losses in recent years due to disease. Because there are no commercially
available chemicals, antibiotics, or vaccines to effectively treat the diseases
associated with these pathogens, there is an urgent need to develop effective
technologies to overcome them, including the development of transgenic shrimp.
For more information on these and other OI research projects,