Case Study 9: Monosex Prawns: Exploiting Androgenic Gland Function for Sex Reversal
Principal Investigators: IS: Amir Sagi (Ben Gurion University of the Negev); AUS: Abigail Elizur (Queensland, Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries); US: JimShao Jun Du (University of Maryland)
Goal: To develop a monosex culture for crustacean aquaculture, specifically for the commercially important giant freshwater prawn, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, and to improve production efficiencies.
Activities: cDNA libraries of the insulin-like AG gene (IAG), responsible for male sexual differentiation, were compiled. The first application of RNAi (gene silencing) in the field of aquaculture was applied to induce functional sex reversal.
Outcomes: The induction of sexual reversal was translated into agro-biotechnologies for monosex culture of prawns supporting higher yields around the world with two Israeli companies providing the seed for all-male culture (Tiran Group) and all-female technologies (the startup company Enzootic).
Economic Benefit: Net Present Value of BARD’s investment is $38 million, thereof $4 million already attained. The Internal Rate of Return is 21%. Benefit-Cost Ratio is 51, thereof 6 already attained.
Capacity Building: 7 postgraduates were involved in Israel in the research supported by the 2 BARD awards between 2006 and 2015. Currently, 3 of them have academic positions in Israel and 1 in Australia, 2 are in algae and pharmaceutical industries, and another 1 is a patent attorney.