USDA Awards More Than $1.2 Million for Aquaculture Research at Four Universities

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2016 –The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) today awarded more than $1.2 million to four universities for research to support the development of environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture in the United States. These new projects will generate new science-based information and innovations to address constraints that hinder the growth of the US aquaculture industry. These awards were made through the Aquaculture Research Program, administered through USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA).
“Aquaculture research projects provide increased security and sustainability to a growing industry with domestic and international market value,” said NIFA Director Dr. Sonny Ramaswamy. “The impacts of these projects will contribute to the 70 percent growth in the aquaculture industry that is expected in the next 30 years.”
The Aquaculture Research Program focuses on projects that directly address major constraints to the U.S. aquaculture industry. Projects funded in fiscal year 2015 focused on program priorities that include: 1) genetics of commercial aquaculture species; 2) critical disease issues impacting aquaculture species; 3) design of environmentally and economically sustainable aquaculture production systems; and 4) economic research for increasing aquaculture profitability. Since 2014, this program has awarded nearly $2.5 million in funding.
Awards for fiscal year 2015 include:
  • Auburn University, Auburn, Ala. $311,746
  • University of Arizona, Tucson, Ariz., $312,139
  • Oregon State University, Corvallis, Ore., $311, 956
  • Rutgers University, New Brunswick, N.J., $309,151
Projects from this year include research by scientists at the University of Arizona who are measuring how the metabolic rate of fish embryos and tissues can predict the growth potential of individual fish.  By doing this, breeding programs can more efficiently and effectively select which fish should be grown to adulthood and bred in order to yield faster growing line of fish for fish famers to raise. Another project, from Oregon State University researchers, will assess bacterial communities that are present in hatcheries that raise and supply larval oysters to shellfish farmers.  By understanding how these bacterial communities respond to both the environment and other bacteria, hatchery managers can prevent and manage pathogenic bacteria outbreaks that can devastate oyster larvae produced in hatcheries. For information on all of this year’s projects, visit the NIFA website.
Since 2009, NIFA has invested in and advanced innovative and transformative initiatives to solve societal challenges and ensure the long-term viability of agriculture. NIFA’s integrated research, education, and extension programs, supporting the best and brightest scientists and extension personnel, have resulted user-inspired, groundbreaking discoveries that are combating childhood obesity, improving and sustaining rural economic growth, addressing water availability issues, increasing food production, finding new sources of energy, mitigating climate variability, and ensuring food safety. To learn more about NIFA’s impact on agricultural science, visit, sign up for email updates, or follow us on Twitter @usda_NIFA, #NIFAimpacts.