BIOTEC Researcher Awarded The Newton Advanced Fellowships 2018 from The Royal Society

Dr.Vanvimon Saksmerprome

Dr.Vanvimon Saksmerprome, BIOTEC researcher from Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology Laboratory, was granted Royal Society-Newton Advanced Fellowship 2018 for her work entitled “Establishment of RNAi-based algal technology for sustainable disease control in shrimp cultivation”. The grant worth GBP 74,000 (about 3.33 million baht) over a period of 2 years from October 2018 – September 2020. In partnership with the Thailand Research Fund (TRF), the fellowship will also be supported by an additional fund from TRF worth 1.5 million baht. This project is led by Dr. Vanvimon, Thailand’s principal investigator and co-led by Prof. Dr. Colin Robinson, University of Kent, United Kingdom.

RNA-based gene silencing technology, as RNA interference (RNAi) is highly effective for combating viruses by using specific double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) designed to knockdown viral genes. The key challenge of RNAi application in aquaculture is developing an effective production and oral delivery system for dsRNA that can be safely used in farms. Microalgal-based technology has recently gained tremendous attention as the platform for biomolecule production, because genetic manipulation and up-scale cultivation of microalgae are generally feasible and sustainable. The researcher proposes to develop the eukaryotic green microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii as a “cell factory” for dsRNA targeting of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), the most lethal shrimp pathogen that has been a serious threat for penaeid shrimp aquaculture. Specifically, the researcher will exploit recent advances in chloroplast synthetic biology developed by the UK collaborators to introduce a series of specific dsRNA expression cassettes into the C. reinhardtii chloroplast genome. DNA delivery into the chloroplast transformation will use a simple and low-cost glass bead method with photosynthetic restoration used as the selection. Consequently, the transformant lines will be antibiotic-free. Delivery of dsRNA into shrimp will be investigated for the most effective viral inhibition. Through bioengineering and up-scale cultivation, the developed microalgae could be used as a combined feed supplement and oral vaccination method for future molecular shrimp farming.

Royal Society-Newton Advanced Fellowships is the program focuses on early to mid-career international researchers (or those with no more than 15 years of postdoctoral experience) who have already established (or are in the process of establishing) a research group or research network and have a research track record. The focus will be on developing their research strengths and providing support for more formalized training and development in collaboration with a UK partner. The award will support the international researcher in their own country, providing them with funding through a UK partner to establish and develop collaborations with the UK with the intention of transferring knowledge and research capabilities to partner countries.

Posted on 18 December 2018.