From the basics to emerging diagnostic technologies: What is on the horizon for tilapia disease diagnostics?
CGIAR Initiative on One Health
Tilapia is an affordable protein source farmed in over 140 countries with the majority of production in low- and middle-income countries. Intensification of tilapia farming has exacerbated losses caused by emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases.
Disease diagnostics play a crucial role in biosecurity and health management to mitigate disease loss and improve animal welfare in aquaculture. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Network of Aquaculture Centers in Asia and the Pacific have proposed three continuous levels of diagnostics (I, II and III) for aquatic species to promote the integration of basic and advanced methods to achieve accurate and meaningful interpretation of diagnostic results.
However, the recent proliferation of cutting-edge molecular methods applied in the diagnosis of diseases of aqua-cultured animals has shifted the focus of researchers and users away from basic approaches and toward molecular diagnostics. This is despite many diseases can be rapidly diagnosed using inexpensive, simple microscopic examination and most emerging diseases in aquaculture were discovered by histopathology.
A new study published in Reviews in Aquaculture (Mar 2023) revisits and highlights the importance of the three levels of diagnostics for diseases of tilapia, particularly the frequently overlooked basic procedures (for example, case history records, gross pathology, presumptive diagnostic methods and histopathology).
The review also covers current and emerging molecular diagnostic technologies for tilapia pathogens including polymerase chain reaction methods (conventional, quantitative and digital), isothermal amplification methods loop-mediated isothermal amplification, recombinase polymerase amplification and detection based on clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, lateral flow immunoassays.
The review also discusses what is on the horizon for tilapia disease diagnostics (next generation sequencing, artificial intelligence, environmental deoxyribonucleic acid and ribonucleic acid and point-of-care testing), providing a future vision for transferring these technologies to farmers and stakeholders for a sustainable aquatic food system transformation.
Ha Thanh Dong, Chaijarasphong, T., Barnes, A.C., Delamare-Deboutteville, J., Lee, P.A., Senapin, S., Mohan, C.V., Tang, K.F.J., McGladdery, S.E. and Bondad-Reantaso, M.G. 2023. From the basics to emerging diagnostic technologies: What is on the horizon for tilapia disease diagnostics? Reviews in Aquaculture 15(S1): 186–212.
Photo credit: Tilapia fish at the wholesale market in Khulna, Bangladesh (Mike Lusmore/Duckrabbit)