Published by Communications and Public Affairs (519) 824-4120, Ext. 56982 or 53338
July 05, 2005
Research Connections Forged at Workshop
New aquaculture research connections have been forged among three scientific networks following an aqua-bioproducts workshop at the University of Guelph.
Two Networks of Centres of Excellence — Canada’s Research Network in Aquaculture (AquaNet) and the Advanced Foods and Materials Network (AFMNet) — came together with the University’s Aquaculture Centre last week to generate network and research links through creative dialogue.
“This workshop explored new opportunities for undertaking bioproducts research that will enhance the competitiveness of our Canadian fisheries and aquaculture sectors,” said Rich Moccia, the Aquaculture Centre’s director and a professor in the Department of Animal and Poultry Science.
Through presentations, discussions and breakout sessions, 30 scientists identified current knowledge and resource gaps and highlighted areas for future research. They outlined emerging opportunities for developing aquaculture bioproducts, including nutraceuticals, functional foods, pharmaceuticals, medical products, cosmetics, fuels, fertilizers and feed ingredients. They also discussed identifying, extracting and incorporating bioactive compounds into value-added products and making better use of aquaculture byproducts.
Participants’ ideas included incorporating essential fatty acids such as DHA into more foods, using antimicrobial peptides in oral-care products, adding antifreeze proteins to cosmetics and foods, and engineering replacement tissues from chitosan (a biopolymer from crustacean exoskeletons).
Many presentations highlighted the need for more effective commercialization strategies, including scientists partnering with industry, government or other scholars in the early stages of research. They also discussed enhanced interdisciplinary collaboration among scientists, social scientists and economists to help address ethical issues, government regulations and consumers’ changing attitudes.
“We have network expertise, physical resources and a receptive funding community,” Moccia said. “We’re sitting at an opportunity threshold, and that’s what brought us all together.”