A project that aims to detect and prevent the spread of shrimp pathogens, an infectious agent that can cause disease to its host, is now nearing completion. 

This was announced by Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma, director of the National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in UP–Diliman during the Science and Technology Forum on Aquatic Biotechnology at the recent National Biotechnology Week in SM Dasmariñas, Cavite.

The Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Agriculture, Aquatic and Natural Resources Research and Development (DOST-PCAARRD), Southeast Asian Fisheries Development Center, Philippine Genome Center, UP and Ateneo de Manila University collaborated to develop the biosensor kit called PhilGeneStrips for the detection of disease in shrimps.

PhilGeneStrips is affordable, easy to use in the field, and has the ability to correctly identify those with the disease as well as those without. It can also detect White Spot Syndrome (WSS) Virus. WSS is a viral infection which is contagious and can quickly lead to death. 

The biosensor kit comes with a mobile application that is ready for cloud computing. This application will serve as an online database of pathogen test strip results for the user. It can also monitor stocking cycles, water quality, and other parameters.

According to Dr. Saloma, to develop the detection kit, they used both nanotechnology and the traditional polymerase chain reaction, a scientific technique in molecular biology that is used to investigate and diagnose the growth of diseases.

“With a click of a button, you know where are the sites of active infection as well as the historical record of some of the old sites,” said Saloma, referring to the mobile application.

“We have not yet uploaded this online which is still a data version. Next year we hope to have this available to the public,” she added.

All over the world, shrimps are very important commodities in the international seafood trade. The Philippines, on the other hand, is gifted with aquaculture potential with numerous coastal areas for the cultivation of shrimps.

Dr. Cynthia P. Saloma, director of National Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology in University of the Philippines – Diliman during the S&T Forum on Aquatic Biotechnology in the recent National Biotechnology Week at SM Dasmariñas, Dasmariñas City, Cavite.

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