A supplement providing a snapshot of the latest developments in chemical biology
Freeing fish farms from infection
04 September 2006
A cheap and environmentally friendly system for cleaning polluted water should help keep farmed fish free of infections. Michela Magaraggia from the University of Padova, Italy, and colleagues have developed a technique to prevent fungal infections in trout farms.
Magaraggia's method combines visible light and porphyrin compounds to tackle diseases caused by the Saprolegnia species. When light shines on the porphyrins, they generate oxygen species with a short life span which can affect only their immediate surroundings. The oxygen species attack many cell constituents, ruling out the risk of selecting resistant microbial strains.
The new method could potentially remove an extensive range of pathogens. 'It will eliminate the current practice of using carcinogenic chemicals such as formaldehyde as the main disinfecting agent,' said Gianluca Li Puma, a scientist from the University of Nottingham, UK.
Magaraggia pointed out that the procedure is cheap and potentially safe. 'The accumulation of porphyrins in the environment is unlikely, owing to the gradual photodegradation induced by visible light,' she said.
M Magaraggia, F Faccenda, A Gandolfi and G Jori, J. Environ. Monit., 2006, 8, 923-931