This fall, the journal Sustainability will be publishing an article about how declining marine resources have fueled the development of new plant-based sources of omega-3, co-authored by members of the Nuseed and CSIRO teams, and Dr. Surinder Singh, the leader of CSIRO’s Plant Oil Engineering division. The special issue of Sustainability, “Marine Biotechnology for Sustainability of Ecologically Significant Resources,” will feature discussions of how marine biotechnologies can potentially enable social, economic, and environmental sustainability.
The paper, “New Sustainable Oil Seed Sources of Omega-3 Long-Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids: A Journey from the Ocean to the Field,” discusses a key issue with the sourcing of omega-3 for use in dietary supplements and aquaculture, and how researchers at Nuseed and CSIRO worked jointly to innovate a solution to this problem.
While the increasing prevalence of farm-raised fish is reducing reliance on wild-caught fish for human consumption, growth in the aquaculture industry has only heightened the demand for this marine resource. The survival, growth, and health of farmed fish and wild fish alike relies on adequate consumption of omega-3 fatty acids. Fish meet this need by consuming smaller fish or fish feed containing fish oils derived from smaller fish.
Inadequate consumption of omega-3 doesn’t just result in less healthy fish, but less nutritious fish as well. Aquaculture cannot truly reduce pressure on the world’s marine resources until alternative sources of omega-3 are developed and utilized.
While some effort has been made to manufacture omega-3 fatty acids by growing algae in tanks, this approach presents significant challenges in terms of cost and resource usage.
Nuseed, joining forces with Dr. Singh’s Plant Oil Engineering team at CSIRO, instead took a different approach. Singh—who received Australia’s version of the Isaac Newton award for his work in plant oil engineering—recognized that canola could likely be bioengineered to produce oil containing omega-3 fatty acids. After years of work, the and CSIRO teams successfully transferred the omega-3 producing genetics of microalgae into canola, ultimately producing Aquaterra, a commercially viable, proprietary plant-based source of omega-3 that has been shown to be an effective and healthy replacement for marine-sourced omega-3 in aquaculture feeds.
Dr. Singh’s expertise, insights, and contributions have been integral to the development of Aquaterra. We hope you’ll take the time to read the full article, and learn more about the development of plant-based sources of omega-3 like Aquaterra, and the present and future potential of this technology.