Jockey Club College of Veterinary Medicine and Life Sciences

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CityU researcher secures Sea Pact grant for aquaculture research

03 April 2019

Dr Giana Bastos Gomes, Assistant Professor in Aquatic Animal Health at City University of Hong Kong’s (CityU) Department of Infectious Diseases and Public Health, has secured a HK$235,000 Sea Pact grant for her research using environmental DNA (eDNA) techniques for early identification of disease within aquaculture farms.
Sea Pact ( is an association of ten leading North American seafood companies working together to drive industry sustainability progress, and using their collective strength to drive improvement of environmental, economic, and social responsibility throughout the global seafood supply chain.

The CityU project focusses on the development of environmental DNA (eDNA) tools for the early detection of pathogens relevant to aquaculture in Southeast Asia. By using eDNA as a front-line methodology it is possible to identify and quantify the genetic material of different pathogens present in the water column early on when disease is not yet present. Asia produces 89% of the world’s farmed seafood, but up to 40% of production is lost to diseases. Early pathogen detection is therefore crucial for the successful health management and control of diseases in aquaculture, including the reduction of antibiotics use and other therapeutic chemicals as prophylactics, rather than treatments. This project aims to dramatically improve the response capability of aquaculture farmers to disease risks in Southeast Asia.