A Glasgow-based start-up that has developed a way to simulate salmon digestion has won a contract to work with multinational nutrition, health and bioscience group Royal DSM.

SalmoSim, a spin-off tech business set up by researchers from the University of Glasgow, will be working with Netherlands-based Royal DSM to explore the effects of different ingredients, enzymes, vitamins and supplements that could be included in the multinational’s range of salmon feed products.

The application developed by SalmoSim can significantly cut down the time required to test different types of feed and feed additives on salmon. It is designed to supplement traditional in vivo trials for salmon feed.

The company’s latest contract win follows the publication of new research, published in the journal Microbiology Spectrum, demonstrating the value of using its artificial gut model to test the potential benefits of using prebiotics in salmon feed.

Prebiotics are compounds typically found in food that stimulate the growth of healthy bacteria or fungi and are commonly added as supplements to human diets.

The SalmoSim study shows that using a commercially available prebiotic leads to a significant shift in the types of bacteria present within the gut, with increased levels of lactic acid and probiotic bacteria. Researchers also found greater levels of essential fatty acids were produced which are crucial for maintaining healthy digestive systems in fish.

With the aquaculture sector moving away from antibiotic treatment, novel fish feeds with functional ingredients – such as prebiotics – are being explored more widely by seafood producers and the supply chain.

Dr Sebastien Rider, senior aquaculture scientist at Royal DSM, said: “We are excited to be using the SalmoSim technology to enhance salmonid nutrition and welfare. By exploring the impact of different combinations of ingredients we can gather essential feedback and data that will help to develop more sustainable and effective aquaculture feed products, which support fish health and the wider growth of the sector.”

Salmon feed ingredient trials, can take up to six months to complete, compared to a six-week gut simulation for microbiome simulations and just days for digestibility trials. Each in vivo trial could cost up to £150,000. By comparison, the simulator can achieve results for a fraction of the time and cost.

The SalmoSim gut simulator was first developed during a collaborative research project that began in 2016, funded in part by the Sustainable Aquaculture Innovation Centre (SAIC). The consortium, led by the University of Glasgow, included Nofima, Alltech and Mowi, with the Marine Institute and University College Cork both involved in a linked project.

Dr Martin Llewellyn, founder of SalmoSim and reader at the University of Glasgow, said: “SalmoSim offers an alternative science-based route to market, providing robust evidence for the supply chain and producers to inform future decisions about trialling key ingredients. We’re pleased to be supporting a leading international company with its mission to accelerate sustainable aquaculture production and transform the approach to nutrition.”

 

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