Learn more about CACHE for Business in the two areas of Aquaculture and Blue Biotechnology by reading the detail in the tabs below.

2010_1028march_20100224_mussel_beds_SARF_TW_SAMSThe EU is the 4th highest producer world-wide of Crassostrea gigas, with an estimated value of €295M and produces 86% of the global production of Mytilus edulis (generating approximately €231M annually). The EU aquaculture industry directly and indirectly  employs  approximately  80,000  individuals, many in rural areas where job opportunities are limited. Globally, aquaculture is the fastest growing food producing sector, accounting for almost 50% of the animal protein consumed globally, with the expectation that this will rise to 65% by 2030, due to the increasing emphasis on fish products as important components of a healthy diet. However, approximately 60-65% of European demand for fish products is imported and the EU is seeking to redress this deficit.

The CACHE network will provide valuable information on the genetics of commercial molluscs to the shellfish industry with the identification of genes for resilience to climate change. Our enhanced understanding of the impact of environmental challenge on shell production will enable us to model these impacts on shellfish stocks. These data will help inform the industry on how we can maximize production in a changing world. Studies on the genetics of Ostrea edulis will be made available to enable potential broodstock exploitation by newly emerging Ostrea farms.

crassostrea_glycymeris_joinedBlue biotechnology is still relatively unexplored with a gross value of €0.8 billion, but offers great potential for highly skilled employment and significant downstream opportunities, for example in specialised chemicals, bioactive compounds and biofuels. In a recent EU white paper, it was acknowledged that the Blue Biotechnology sector will be a growth area for Europe in the future, requiring a combination of basic research on ocean life and applied research on possible industrial applications (COM/2012/494_final).

In this respect, materials science is increasingly turning to the study and exploitation of biological systems for the development of novel high performance materials. A particular target for biomimetic or “bioinspired” materials is the molluscs. For example, the nacre layer of the shell is mechanically robust and is a potential source of materials with inelasticity and high toughness, whilst the holdfast of marine mussels has exceptional adhesive properties and presents novel solutions for wet adhesion. Hence fundamental knowledge on shell secretion and maintenance may generate novel biomimicry solutions. Two Marie Curie fellows will be engaged within the network at the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS) to map and exploit potential biomimicry applications from our research.