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Biotechnology to boost Malaysian freshwater prawn seed production

Thursday, July 22, 2021

A Malaysian giant freshwater prawn farm owner took the initiative to apply a biotechnological technique for the production of monosex prawn populations. Giva Kuppusamy, founder and CEO of GK Aqua, utilizes a technique that transforms males into fully-functioning neo-females and increases up to 134% yield compared to conventional methods and ensures a continuous supply of broodstock. 

The technique injects the enzyme ribonucleic acid interference (RNAi) that inhibits male development and transforms males into fully-functioning females that produce eggs. Neo-females are paired with normal males and almost all seeds obtained are males. Kuppusamy said to Bernama that through this technique it only requires four months to get fully developed prawns while the conventional method requires nine months. He also reported that farming operation costs can be reduced and the prawn size is three times the size of ordinary giant prawns. On average, a farmer with a 2-acre land could earn a net profit of $2,000 per month.

The typical broodstock available in Malaysia results in large female populations that are small in size and low in price and that leads to low seeds supplies. Kuppusamy said that the implementation of this new technology at scale will increase national aquaculture production. GK Aqua received approval for the monosex culture technique from the Malaysian Biosafety Department and the Genetic Modification Advisory Committee. 

Negeri Sembilan Fisheries Department (JPNS) director, Halimi Abu Hanip, said the effort by GK Aqua in monosex culture is seen as an industry 4.0 game changer that could help Negeri Sembilan in its aspiration to be the nation’s freshwater prawn farming valley.

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