Bioremediation of aquaculture systems using agro-waste products

Scope of the Technology 

  • Shrimp aquaculture has extensively been practiced in India. As is the case of any farming system, shrimp farming also results in accumulation of waste metabolites in the culture system, causing stress among the animals. To maintain healthy ecosystem in aquaculture ponds, biostimulation of indigenous bacteria in culture system is the best eco-friendly practice. In the present invention, a biostimulator has been developed from abundantly available agrowaste for shrimp aquaculture. 
  • For the utilization of microorganisms in the bioremediation, the bacteria must be immobilized in a matrix that can sustain the cell so that the matrix will have the longer shelf life and retention period. Currently several products such as polymeric materials, other bio-support materials, zeolite, activated carbon and glass beads, have been used as the immobilization matrix for the bacterium of choice. These solid matrices used for the immobilization of the whole cells were mostly synthetic polymers or inorganic materials. However, these materials are expensive and also posed disposal problems. Matrix developed in the present invention does not have these problems as it is abundantly available agrowaste, which is not only cost effective but also environment friendly. This matrix as a supporting substrate is an ideal alternative of the expensive solid matrices presently being used.

Technology description 

  • The technology is based on low cost abundantly available matrix from agro-waste and the development of an easy process for immobilization of bacterial biomass onto the matrix.
  • The main characteristics of the product developed are adequate substrate concentration, high surface area for maintenance of a high microbial cell density and optimization of microbial growth, longer biomass retention time and shelf life, and protection from inhibitory compounds
  • Biostimulator from agro-waste leads to enhanced bioremediation of aquatic nitrogenous metabolites such as ammonia and nitrite.
  • The product developed has excellent mechanical stability with no residue problem and no adverse effect on cultured shrimp.
  • The matrix has been successfully tested with various ATCC bacteria and other bacterial isolates implicated in bioremediation under Institute’s laboratory experimental conditions.
  • The matrix has been characterized by scanning electron microscope, X-ray photo electron spectroscopy and Fourier transform infra-red spectroscopy.
  • Molecular tools have been applied to detect immobilized organisms onto the matrix.
  • The product offers dual application possibility with the by-product (formed during the process of the development of matrix), which can also be utilized for industrial and other applications.
  • The retention time and shelf life may vary (increase or decrease) based on the bacteria to be immobilized. The biostimulation capacity also depends on other water quality parameters. Hence, prior to use, matrix and its bioremediation potential has to be tested with the organisms to be immobilized and under conditions where the product has to be applied.

Technology providers (CIBA and its’s strengths in this field) 

  • Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture (CIBA) is the only nodal research institute working on need based research for shrimp farmers and involved in developing products for sustainable and eco-friendly shrimp culture  . The Institute has excellent laboratory facilities and farm facilities. The product has been extensively tested in these facilities. CIBA has an Institute Technology Management Committee (ITMC) which is empowered by the Indian Council of Agriculture to directly interact and finalize the technology transfer with private entrepreneurs and established industrial partners. The commercial rights of the product developed will be shared between the private partner and CIBA based on the ICAR published guidelines on commercialization (
  • The scientific excellence of the project team that has developed this project is evident from the patent and publications on applications of the matrix.
  • A patent application has been filed for the product (Patent filed Application No. 633/CHE/2006) Immobilizing matrix for bacterial biomass and a process for preparation thereof.
  • Publications in international journals
  • Water Environment Research. 78: 938–950, 2006. (Water Environment Federation, USA. ISSN 1061- 4303).
  • Asian Fisheries Science. 19(4): 429-444, 2006. (Asian Fisheries Society Philippines. ISSN 0116-6514).
  • Water SA. 30(4): 541-545, 2004. Water Research Commission, SA ISSN 0378-4738.

Linkely cost

  • Matrix technology could be licensed out to the various entrepreneurs under the ICAR published guidelines on commercialization.

Market potential 

  • In aquaculture and wastewater treatment industries, there is a much demand of immobilization and biostimulation materials for bacteria implicated in bioremediation. Currently available products are several polymeric materials (alginates beads, poly carbamoylsulphonate, polyethylene, polystyrene, polysulfone,  sol-gel silica hybrids), calcium carbonate, metal hydroxides, other biosupport materials (chitosan, agar beads, bentonite), activated carbon and glass beads, which have been used as the immobilization matrix for the bacterium of choice. These solid matrices used for the immobilization of the whole cells were mostly synthetic polymers or inorganic materials. However, these materials are expensive and also possessed disposal problems. On the other hand matrix developed in the present invention does not have these problems as it is developed from abundantly available agrowaste, which is very cost effective and environment friendly.
  • Matrix can be an ideal and inexpensive substitute of costly filters and chemicals used for imaging bacteria through scanning electron microscope (SEM).
  • Possibly, this matrix can also be used in industrial bio-carrier (bio-drain) systems.

Economic Feasibility

  • This product is very cost effective as this has been derived from abundantly available agrowaste, which is biodegradable and doesn’t have any disposal problem. Easy immobilization process is an additional advantage.

Benefits(Private partner/farmer)

  • Matrix for immobilization and biostimulation of bacteria and also as ideal substrate for imaging bacteria by SEM can benefit private partners and entrepreneurs engaged in aquaculture and wastewater treatment business. Matrix as a biostimulator can benefit aqua-farmers for the improvement of aquaculture water quality. The integration of the matrix in the brackishwater shrimp aquaculture will therefore assist the farmers to make their farming practices more sustainable.

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