Issue 2's archives
Companies and local governments in Canada, Alaska, Hawaii, Honduras, and other places have been experimenting with fish-based biodiesel for years, and some commercial enterprises are using and selling it profitably. The amount of fish biodiesel being used is minuscule compared to availability, however.
Using this waste oil for fuel has long been standard practice. According to the Alaska Energy Authority (AEA), fish processors produce approximately 8 million gallons per year of fish oil from as a byproduct of fish meal plants. Much of the oil is used in the process as boiler fuel for drying the fish meal.
In 2004 the AEA partnered with the Hawaiian firm Pacific Biodiesel to make biodiesel out of the fish oil; now production is more local. Biodiesel from fish and waste cooking oil is used in Denali National Park, both in stationary generators and in vehicle engines.
In Nova Scotia, Canada, Ocean Nutrition, a company that mostly sells omega-3 fatty acids as nutrition supplements, began using waste oil to make biodiesel for its own operations, and now also sells biodiesel to a local gas station chain, which blends it into B20 before selling it retail. According to New Agriculturist, using fish waste product could have other environmental benefits. Twenty-one million gallons of fish oil are produced annually by Alaska’s shore-based and floating fish processing plants, and yet two-thirds (13 million gallons) are currently discarded. Fish waste, if not processed immediately, degrades rapidly and quickly loses its value. And when dumped into the sea in high concentrations, the waste can also disrupt marine ecosystem.
Toxin From Coral-reef Bacteria Could Become Next-generation Cancer DrugToxin From Coral-reef Bacteria Could Become Next-generation Cancer DrugPosted On: February 11, 2008
University of Michigan (U-M) and Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego researchers have acquired a new molecular tool that could help them transform a toxin from coral-reef bacteria into a next-generation cancer drug. U-M Life Sciences Institute researchers David Sherman and Janet Smith led a cross-disciplinary team that uncovered new functions for an ancient, well-known family of proteins found in many organisms, from microbes to humans. The discovery of new roles for the GNAT family of proteins adds weapons to the arsenal of “synthetic biologists” who rearrange the building blocks of natural substances in an effort to make better pharmaceuticals, said Sherman, director of LSI’s Center for Chemical Genomics and the Hans W. Valteich professor of medicinal chemistry at the U-M College of Pharmacy.
By applying state-of-the-art holographic microscopy to a major marine biology challenge, researchers from two Baltimore institutions have identified the swimming and attack patterns of two tiny but deadly microbes linked to fish kills in the Chesapeake Bay and other waterways. The study focused on the aquatic hunting tactics of two single-celled creatures classified as dinoflagellates. These two-tailed microbes feed on even smaller prey that are attracted to the algal blooms caused by water pollution. Scientists are concerned because these dinoflagellates produce toxins that can kill large numbers of fish.
The research shows that microscopic predators apparently need to alter their behavior in order to bring down their tiny prey. In the fluid realm of fast-swimming microbes, the scientists said, this study has shown for the first time just how the dinoflagellate predators respond to cues and alter the way in which they swim to become more formidable hunters.
The research is believed to represent a milestone in the application of in-line digital holographic microscopy. Gaining a better understanding of the behavior of these microbes may lead to new ways to avert the increase of fish kills attributed to dinoflagellate toxins.
A research team led by Bradley Moore at the marine biomedical laboratories at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego discovered an enzyme inside a bacterium identified in 1991 called Salinispora tropica. The enzyme, called SalL, is currently being tested to treat cancer in humans. The Salinispora derivative “Salinosporamide A” is currently in phase I of human clinical trials for the treatment of multiple myeloma and other cancers. Moore believes the discoveries provide a new “road map” for furthering S. tropica’s potential for drug development. Knowing the “pathway” of how the natural product is made biologically may give biotechnology and pharmaceutical scientists the ability to manipulate key molecules to engineer new versions of Salinispora-derived drugs. Genetic engineering may allow the development of second-generation compounds that can’t be found in nature. The chlorine atom in salinosporamide A is key to the drug’s irreversible binding to its biological target and one of the reasons the drug is so effective against cancer,” said Moore.
Scottish marine biotechnology company GlycoMar Ltd has recently secured further investment of £260,000 from its investors, as the first stage of a targeted £2.5 M funding round. This will allow the Company to expand and accelerate its drug discovery operations, taking potential marine anti-inflammatory drugs into clinical development.
GlycoMar, which means ‘sweet sea’, is dedicated to the discovery, development and commercialisation of new anti-inflammatory drug candidates based on the glycobiology of marine organisms. The Company makes its products from a wide variety of invertebrate animals, including starfish, shellfish, sponges, and sea squirts, and it has recently started working with seaweed and bacterial products.
Since 2005, GlycoMar’s rapid growth business strategy has seen the company secure major contracts with drug development companies to supply polysaccharide and glycoprotein products as well as in vitro screening services. GlycoMar is in discussions with institutional investors to secure an additional £2.25 M to take its active compounds in to clinical trials.
Cod held in intensive culture typically mature within 2 years from hatching, with reduced somatic growth rates, deterioration of flesh composition and reduction of wet weight by at least 25%. A delay or cessation of maturation during on-growing is therefore crucial for profitable farming. The advent of a new lighting technology based on Cold Cathode Light Tubes enables fish farmers to improve the growth rate of farmed cod significantly. Overlaying of artificial illumination on the natural day-night cycle in day length masks this seasonally changing signal and has been shown to successfully regulate maturation in a number of tank-based studies in Atlantic cod in which a complete cessation of maturation and up to a subsequent 60% improvement in growth have been observed.
The CODLIGHT-TECH project is an EU-project involving parties from several European countries: MATIS – Food Research, Innovation & Safety and various fish farming companies in Iceland; The University of Stirling and Johnsons Sea Farms in Scotland; Institute of Marine Research (Havforskningsinstitutet) in Bergen, Fjord Marin and Intravision Group in Norway and; The Swedish University of Agricultural Science in Uppsala, Sweden.
Franck Hennequart and his colleagues at the National University of Ireland in Galway have developed a process to extract alginates, laminaran and fucoidans from brown algae. Alginates are currently used as low-cost thickening and viscosity stabilizers for such products as salad dressings, and for microencapsulated ingredients. Laminarans are used in horticulture, but otherwise have no other industrial applications, and fucoidans are used as bioactive agents in Asia.
The scientists began developing a way to commercially extract the laminarans and fucoidans from the algae after studies indicated both had potential uses as immuno-stimulant, anti-viral and anti-cancer agents. Some of the extracts were tested against nine pathogens, including E. coli, listeria, staphycococcus, and salmonella. The scientists have now produced and identified four different extracts from the seaweeds, standardized their composition and are now testing them on a range of drinks, including mineral water, orange juice and cold tea. Some of the extracts seem to have an anti-inflammatory effect, and so far no toxicity has been discovered. Some of the problems to be overcome include methods to ensure quality control. The studies and their conclusions will help guide the selection of candidate functional beverages for commercialization.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in South Africa aims to develop a process for the production of biodiesel from algae, states CSIR bioprocessing development research team leader Raj Lalloo. The desktop study for this project was started in 2006, and laboratory research was undertaken earlier this year.
“Algae have long been known to produce lipids that can be used for biodiesel production. With the current world-wide impetus on cleaner fuels and environmental awareness, algal biodiesel is an attractive option, as the specific production of oil from a unit of biomass is extremely high in algae, compared with most seed crops,” says Lalloo. Lalloo also argues that algae have advantages over oilseed crops in that they do not use arable land, and can be used to simultaneously sequestrate carbon dioxide emissions, such as flue gases.
CSIR lead researcher Dheepak Ramduth says that algae can produce up to 90 times more lipids for one unit of biomass than the best oil seed crop, and that it has the potential to use wastewater as a source of media.
A study conducted by the Danish Institute for Fisheries Research concludes that coating a stainless steel surface with a non-toxic fish extract is more effective in preventing microbial adhesion and biofilm formation than uncoated surfaces or surfaces coated with tryptone soy broth. Microbial adhesion and biofilm formation on surfaces pose major problems and risks to human health. In the study, bacterial attachment was quantified by different methods including (a) direct fluorescence microscopy, (b) removal by ultrasound and subsequent quantification of the adhered bacteria, and (c) re-growth of the adhered bacteria measured by indirect conductometry. Surprisingly, the bacterial counts on surfaces coated with aqueous fish extract were 10-100 times lower than on surfaces coated with laboratory broths when surfaces were submerged in bacterial suspensions. The bacteria grow well in the fish extract; hence a general bacteriocidal effect is not the reason for the antifouling effect. The research concludes that coating the stainless steel surface with fish extract results in a thin protein layer that reduces bacterial adhesion significantly.
A group of United Kingdom scientists recently discovered a bacterium found in Japanese seabeds with the ability to kill MRSA. The new species produces a unique antibiotic that has the potential for treating humans. William Fenical, a pioneer of marine microbiology at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, supports that scientists need to look elsewhere to discover new antibiotics with new structure types because they aren’t finding enough new breakthroughs on land. However, finding enough money to support this research could prove challenging
The search for an antibiotic on the bottom of the ocean makes sense because sea-dwelling microorganisms haven’t come into contact with disease-forming bacteria on land. Special living conditions and functions within the ocean’s ecosystem force them to produce a vast number of enzymes that have potential therapeutic benefits to humans.