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Case study

Gene Editing Shrimp: White Spot Syndrome Virus

As part of our drive for sustainable protein production, Roslin Technologies partner with academics working in key Scottish industries such as aquaculture.

Shrimp is an important part of the worldwide aquaculture industry, representing 14% of the world trade of aquaculture products by value1. Infectious diseases have a major impact on global food security; with 10% of the world’s shrimp production lost to White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV)2 – and a predicted $1 billion a year lost across the market since its emergence in the 1990s3 – there are both market and production pressures to find a solution to this problem. 

Case study

Gene Editing Shrimp: White Spot Syndrome Virus

As part of our drive for sustainable protein production, Roslin Technologies partner with academics working in key Scottish industries such as aquaculture. 

Shrimp is an important part of the worldwide aquaculture industry, representing 14% of the world trade of aquaculture products by value1. Infectious diseases have a major impact on global food security; with 10% of the world’s shrimp production lost to White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV)2 – and a predicted $1 billion a year lost across the market since its emergence in the 1990s3 – there are both market and production pressures to find a solution to this problem. 

Two piglets facing the camera
Porcine iPS cells differentiated into Adipocytes
Roslin Technologies Institute

Ensuring sustainable protein production

Roslin Technologies has teamed up with the aquaculture team at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, in a studentship project aiming to provide solutions to this viral disease. The project aims to understand and improve the whiteleg shrimp’s resistance to the virus, including through the development and use of gene editing techniques. 

Whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) are the target of this joint project as they account for over 81% of the total shrimp production worldwide1. Additionally, they are vital sources of protein in Southwest Asia and Latin America, and there is increasing interest from other countries into shrimp farming. In 2017, 36 countries farmed whiteleg shrimp, more than any of the other top 10 Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Information System (ASFIS) species items1

The largest threat to the sustainability of shrimp aquaculture are infectious diseases, with white spot syndrome (WSS) currently being the biggest concern. WSS, caused by WSSV, causes mortalities of up to 100%4, and has led to massive production losses worldwide since it was first characterised in 1992. WSS remains an unsolved problem for shrimp aquaculture, as current methods to reduce its impacts are generally not cost effective or feasible5. Therefore, improvement of host resistance to the virus is a key goal, and genome editing offers new opportunities to achieve this.

Genetic engineering

As shrimp have no adaptive immunity, this poses a challenge in how to create a treatment or vaccine against WSSV. Genetic engineering, combining the expertise and knowledge in both Roslin Tech and the Roslin Institute, offers a solution in producing whiteleg shrimp immune to WSSV. We are very excited for the ultimate outcome of a method to reduce the impact of a virus that affects such a large proportion of a vital source of protein across the world. 

In addition, the project aims to understand and improve the host resistance to WSSV in shrimp through the CRISPR/Cas9 system. With in vivo tests also to be conducted during the project, this will also assist with expanding the knowledge of WSSV for the development of future therapeutic strategies. 

Nurturing academic talent       

As part of Roslin Tech’s support for this project, BBSRC EASTBIO PhD student Alexandra Florea will also undertake an industry internship with us. We look forward to having her on board, assessing consumer acceptance and regulatory clearance for research such as this.

Find out more information on this project, and our other products and research projects in our portfolio.

1  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
2 Stentiford et al. (2012) Disease will limit future food supply from the global crustacean fishery and aquaculture sectors
3 All About Feed
4 Hossain et al. (2014) Prevalence and distribution of White Spot Syndrome Virus in cultured shrimp
5 Trang et al. (2019) Genetic Variation in Disease Resistance Against White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in Liptopenaeus vannamei

Learn more about our academic partnerships:

Read more

Porcine iPS cells differentiated into Adipocytes

IPS CELL LINES FOR CULTIVATED MEAT

Roslin Technologies has developed a novel method of iPS cell line creation. These cell lines can be used in cultivated meat production.

Piglets

Vaccine Delivery Vehicle: Parasite Engineering

As part of Roslin Tech’s drive to enhance sustainable protein production, we partner with academics conducting cutting-edge research that can have commercial impacts on the livestock industry.

Piglets

Genetic breeding programme for pigs

Danish Genetics represent Denmark’s leading pig breeders, producers and vendors who are working to provide a sustainable, welfare focussed system.

Ensuring sustainable protein production

Roslin Technologies has teamed up with the aquaculture team at the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, supported by Edinburgh Innovations, the University’s commercialisation service, in a studentship project aiming to provide solutions to this viral disease. The project aims to understand and improve the whiteleg shrimp’s resistance to the virus, including through the development and use of gene editing techniques. 

Whiteleg shrimp (Litopenaeus vannamei) are the target of this joint project as they account for over 81% of the total shrimp production worldwide1. Additionally, they are vital sources of protein in Southwest Asia and Latin America, and there is increasing interest from other countries into shrimp farming. In 2017, 36 countries farmed whiteleg shrimp, more than any of the other top 10 Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Information System (ASFIS) species items1

The largest threat to the sustainability of shrimp aquaculture are infectious diseases, with white spot syndrome (WSS) currently being the biggest concern. WSS, caused by WSSV, causes mortalities of up to 100%4, and has led to massive production losses worldwide since it was first characterised in 1992. WSS remains an unsolved problem for shrimp aquaculture, as current methods to reduce its impacts are generally not cost effective or feasible5. Therefore, improvement of host resistance to the virus is a key goal, and genome editing offers new opportunities to achieve this.

Porcine iPS cells differentiated into Adipocytes

Genetic engineering

As shrimp have no adaptive immunity, this poses a challenge in how to create a treatment or vaccine against WSSV. Genetic engineering, combining the expertise and knowledge in both Roslin Tech and the Roslin Institute, offers a solution in producing whiteleg shrimp immune to WSSV. We are very excited for the ultimate outcome of a method to reduce the impact of a virus that affects such a large proportion of a vital source of protein across the world. 

In addition, the project aims to understand and improve the host resistance to WSSV in shrimp through the CRISPR/Cas9 system. With in vivo tests also to be conducted during the project, this will also assist with expanding the knowledge of WSSV for the development of future therapeutic strategies. 

Nurturing academic talent       

As part of Roslin Tech’s support for this project, BBSRC EASTBIO PhD student Alexandra Florea will also undertake an industry internship with us. We look forward to having her on board, assessing consumer acceptance and regulatory clearance for research such as this.

Find out more information on this project, and our other products and research projects in our portfolio.

1  Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
2 Stentiford et al. (2012) Disease will limit future food supply from the global crustacean fishery and aquaculture sectors
3 All About Feed
4 Hossain et al. (2014) Prevalence and distribution of White Spot Syndrome Virus in cultured shrimp
5 Trang et al. (2019) Genetic Variation in Disease Resistance Against White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) in Liptopenaeus vannamei

Porcine iPS cells differentiated into Adipocytes

Learn more about our academic partnerships:

Read more

Porcine iPS cells differentiated into Adipocytes

IPS CELL LINES FOR CULTIVATED MEAT

Roslin Technologies has developed a novel method of iPS cell line creation. These cell lines can be used in cultivated meat production.

Piglets

Vaccine Delivery Vehicle: Parasite Engineering

As part of Roslin Tech’s drive to enhance sustainable protein production, we partner with academics conducting cutting-edge research that can have commercial impacts on the livestock industry.

Piglets

Genetic breeding programme for pigs

Danish Genetics represent Denmark’s leading pig breeders, producers and vendors who are working to provide a sustainable, welfare focussed system.