BIOTEC researchers were honored with 2023 OUTSTANDING ONE HEALTH RESEARCHER IN AQUACULTURE AWARD from The Foundation for Conservation of Biodiversity (FUCOBI) of Ecuador.

Dr. Suparat Taengchaiyaphum, Dr. Kallaya Sritunyalucksana-Dangtip and Prof. Dr. Timothy W. Flegel received the 2023 OUTSTANDING ONE HEALTH RESEARCHER IN AQUACULTURE AWARD from the Foundation for Conservation of Biodiversity (FUCOBI) of Ecuador for the pioneering research on shrimp diseases and endogenous viral elements (EVEs) identified in shrimp genome.

A research consortium from Aquatic Animal Health Research Team and Center of Excellence for Shrimp Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (CENTEX Shrimp) unlocks shrimp viral defense mechanism after a decade of study. The discovery of persistent virus infection in surviving shrimp after a viral outbreak related to the presence of EVEs of the corresponding virus in shrimp genome has been reported. It was hypothesized that EVEs are molecules involved in memory and recognition of the infecting virus. Subsequent work revealed that EVEs gave rise to the molecules called “viral copies of DNA or vcDNA”, both circular form (cvcDNA) and linear form (lvcDNA). The team has developed techniques for extraction of cvcDNA starting from shrimp infected with Infectious Hypodermal and Haematopoietic Necrosis virus (IHHNV). Simultaneous injection of extracted cvcDNA into whietleg shrimp resulted in a significant reduction in virus replication. The team is currently undertaking further study to explore the possibility of developing cvcDNAs molecules as antiviral vaccines for shrimp.

The discovery of the transmission of EVEs from parent to offspring in marine shrimp provides an opportunity for the development of strains tolerated to severe virus diseases such as white spot syndrome virus (WSSV), using EVE-mediated mechanisms naturally occurring in shrimp.

The award ceremony will be held at the ‘Shrimp Genomes and Epigenomes (ShrimpENCODE)’ session on March 28, 2023 at the 115th Annual Meeting of the National Shellfisheries Association (NSA) in Baltimore.