Aquatic Animal Health and Environment Division

Research on brackishwater aquatic animal health and environment was initiated at the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture since 1990. Since then it has grown in terms of expertise, manpower and facilities. The Aquatic Animal Health and Environment Division or the AAHED in short, has scientists with all relevant specialities and expertise in Microbiology, Virology, Pathology, Parasitology, Biotechnology, Molecular Diagnostics, Soil and water Chemistry, Environment and Aquaculture. The AAHED has well established laboratory facilities for carrying out cutting edge research in molecular biology in addition to aquatic animal health and environment management including diagnostics, prophylactics and health management in brackishwater aquaculture. The advanced facilities have been developed with funding support from ICAR, National Agricultural Research Project (NARP), World Bank, National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), All India Network Project on Fish health (AINP), Consortia Research Platform on Diagnostics and Vaccines (CRP-D&V), National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) project, Department of Biotechnology and National Fisheries Development Board with dedicated efforts of scientists. A well designed wet lab is also in place for carrying out live aquatic animal experiments and evaluating Koch’s and River’s postulates.

The AAHED, CIBA has the mandate to carry out research on (a) economically impacting diseases of brackishwater culture species and develop technologies for rapid diagnosis, prophylaxis and control; (b) brackishwater environment and develop mitigatory measures as required; and (c) provide technical and policy support to the Government on matters pertaining to aquatic animal health and environment management to improve aquaculture productivity.

The AAHED of CIBA was the first to commercialise a white spot syndrome diagnostic kit to a premier Biotechnology company in the year 2002. AAHED has the expertise and capacity to carry out all the proposed levels of Diagnostics of OIE listed brackishwater pathogens, and has been serving as a National Referral Laboratory to the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Govt. of India.

The environment section of AAHED has the expertise to look into all aspects of abiotic parameters. Novel methods have been developed for the bioremediation and environmental monitoring of the brackishwater rearing systems, including hatcheries and grow-out farms. The section has developed climate smart solutions such as carrying capacity assessment tools for optimisation of brackishwater aquaculture development. The unit has expertise in climate related matters and capacity for environmental impact assessment.

AAHED, CIBA has been carrying out research on various aspects of prophylactics and therapeutics of brackishwater aquatic animal diseases and has published over 60 research publications in peer reviewed national and international journals, produced 18 Ph. Ds, who are currently employed in key positions in various Institutions in India and abroad.

Salient Achievements
Nested PCR kit for detection of Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) in shrimp
Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) causes hepatopancreatic microsporidiosis in farmed shrimp and has been a growing concern world over, including India. The disease is often associated with severe growth retardation and/or white faeces syndromes in farmed shrimp. An indigenous cost effective, user friendly diagnostic kit for detection of EHP by nested PCR was developed based on the sequence of 18s small subunit rRNA (SSU rRNA) gene of the EHP isolates in India.
Improved WSSV - PCR diagnostic kit
A simple, sensitive, cost effective and user-friendly improved WSSV - PCR diagnostic kit has been developed based on TATA-box binding protein gene of WSSV. Decapod ß-actin gene has been incorporated as an internal control to eliminate false negative reactions. This assay is designed for the specific and sensitive detection of WSSV and is 10 to 50 times more sensitive than other nested PCR assays. The assay kit contains all the required materials and reagents for DNA isolation and PCR and presented in such a way that handling is limited to the minimum. The kit was commercialised to a start-up company ‘Aura Biotechnologies Limited’, in May 2017.
CIBAMOX is a water probiotic containing an innovative combination of autotrophic ammonia oxidizing, nitrite oxidizing and denitrifying bacterial consortia from coastal environments, selected for their fast growth and high yield and enhanced detoxification efficiency under standard conditions developed for mitigation of nitrogenous wastes in aquaculture ponds. Mass production protocols optimised for ammonia oxidizing, nitrite oxidizing and denitrifying bacteria. Multi-location trials in shrimp ponds at Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have indicated efficient management of ammonia and total ammonia nitrogen in shrimp ponds. The product effectively removes nitrogenous wastes form aquaculture ponds with salinities ranging from 15-45 ppt.
LUMIPhage is the phage therapy technology for biocontrol of pathogenic vibrios in shrimp hatcheries. The technology has been developed using bacteriophages (or phages in short, are viruses that selectively infect and kill bacteria) capable of against the luminescent bacteria of genus Vibrio. The product contains consortia of bacteriophages having broad spectrum activity against virulent vibrios, selected from a pool of over 35 phages having lytic activity against over 350 luminescent bacterial isolates. Culture conditions have been optimized for producing high yield of bacteriophages in 18 hrs in pilot scale fermenter. The efficacy has been proved in commercial shrimp hatcheries as prophylactic and therapeutic for control of luminescent bacterial disease and improved larval survival.
The ß-Nova RT-PCR kit has been developed for early detection of viral nervous necrosis (VNN) of finfish, caused by beta-nodavirus. The kit offers a rapid, specific and sensitive detection system based on the amplification of the coat protein gene of the virus genome segment RNA2. The kit can be used for routine diagnosis of disease and to screen broodstock, larvae and trash fish used as feed in fish hatcheries and selective breeding programme for pathogen free stock development in freshwater, brackishwater and marine ecosystem
Diagnostic Kit for White Muscle Disease (WMD) of Giant Freshwater Prawn
A nucleic acid based rtPCR diagnostic kit for white muscle disease of scampi Macrobrachium rosenbergii was developed based on the genomic sequence information generated from Indian strain of Macrobrachium rosenbergii nodavirus. The unique features of the kit are RNA friendly fixative for proper fixation of the tissue sample and an easy viral RNA extraction reagent for the preparation of RNA. This kit is user friendly and cost effective. The kit was evaluated with the infected and uninfected samples of scampi collected from AP, TN, Kerala, and Gujarat, and the results were scientifically validated. The kit was released in 2004.
Nested PCR diagnostic kit for detection of WSSV
A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit for the detection of WSSV of shrimp was developed based on the sequence of genomic fragment of Indian strain of WSSV. The kit offers simplified template DNA extraction protocols, is cost effective, time saving and farmer friendly. It is a powerful and sensitive diagnostic tool which detects pathogen at a very early stage of infection. The PCR kit was commercialised to a premier Biotech Company, “Bangalore Genei” in the year 2002.

2017: Draft Genome Sequence of the Luminescent Strain Vibrio campbellii LB102, Isolated from a Black Tiger Shrimp (Penaeus monodon) Broodstock Rearing System deciphered
2017: WSSV-PCR ring testing by Aqua PCR labs conducted in collaboration with MPEDA.
2016: Emerging pathogen in brackishwater aquaculture, Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) detected in Indian brackishwater aquaculture
2015: Protocols for enumeration of viruses in brackishwater bodies were standardized.
2014: Explored RNA interference technology using dsRNA targeting the structural and non-structural genes and their antiviral effects against WSD and MBV established.
2014: Differences in occurrence of WSSV genotypes with respect to variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) across different geographical locations and difference between genotypes of wild and cultured crab and shrimp species documented.
2013: Freedom from acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) or early mortality syndrome (EMS) of farmed shrimp in brackishwater aquaculture in India demonstrated.
2013: Shrimp immunostimulant commercialised.
2013: Information on the viability of WSSV in aquaculture ecosystem useful for improvement of Best Management Practices in aquaculture was generated. 2013: The economic impact of diseases in brackishwater aquaculture during 2005-07 was estimated to be 48717 metric tonnes of product valued to the tune of Rs.1022.13 crore per year
2009: Software for the estimation of carrying capacity of water body for shrimp farming.
2008: Conducted import risk analysis (IRA) of Penaeus (Litopenaeus) vannamei for the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India prior to introduction of this exotic species in India.
2008: WSSV-PCR ring testing by Aqua PCR labs was conducted in collaboration with MPEDA.
2007: The mysis 2 stage was identified as the crucial stage for the attack of luminescent bacterial disease in shrimp hatcheries.
2005, 2008: Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) for aquaculture introduced.
2005: Piscine nodavirus detected in finfish in the Indian sub-continent.
2005: Harmonisation of WSSV PCR testing by Aqua PCR labs was conducted in collaboration with CSIRO/NACA and MPEDA.
2005: Polychaete worms identified as important vectors of WSSV.
2004: Criteria for the selection of microbes as candidate probiotics require a re-look.
1999: Host range of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in shrimp, prawns, crabs and lobsters revealed.
1995: A comprehensive bulletin on the diseases of shrimp published.
1994: Mass mortality of tiger shrimp farms located along the Kandaleru creek in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh was diagnosed as Infectious hepatopancreatic and lymphoid organ necrosis (IHLN), a disease similar to yellow head.
1994: monodon baculovirus (MBV) detected in Indian white shrimp P. indicus for the first time.
1992: Mortality of giant tiger shrimp in TASPARC shrimp farms at Nellore diagnosed due to bacterial septicaemia.

Services to the sector

  • Referral Lab Services to AQCS
  • Referral Lab Services to AQF
  • Technical / Policy Services to DADF/ Ministry

Scientific Staff list

Principal Scientist & Head 
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Phone : +91- 044 - 24618817Ext-208


Dr.K.P Jithendran, Principal Scientist

Dr.M.Muralidhar, Principal Scientist

Dr.Ms. M.Poornima,Principal Scientist 

Dr.Ms.R.Saraswathy, Principal Scientist 

Dr. P.K.Patil, Principal Scientist  

Dr. S.K. Otta, Principal Scientist

Dr. Sanjoy Das, Principal Scientist

Dr. R.Ananda Raja, Scientist

Dr. Sujeet Kumar, Scientist

Dr.Ms. Ezhil Praveena, Scientist

Dr.Ms. T.Bhuvaneswari, Scientist

Dr.Ms. N. Lalitha, Scientist

Shri P. Kumararaja, Scientist

Dr. Satheesha Avunje, Scientist 

Smt. R. Mary Lini, Scientist

Ms. Vidya Rajendran, Scientist

Shri. T. Sathish Kumar, Scientist

Ms. Suvana Sukumaran, Scientist

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