Advanced biotechnology for intensive – freshwater aquaculture wastewater reuse 

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henning sorum 

Prof Henning Sørum

Executive Coordinator 

Projects  Partner and Institution:

Prof Jana Pickova, Swediah University of Agricultural Sciences, Sweden

Dr Corina Moga, DFR Systems SLR, Romania

Prof Ioan Ardelean, Romanian Academy, Romania
Crăciun Nicolai, University of Bucharest, Romania
Dr Fiona Walsh, Maynooth University, Ireland
Prof Marko Virta, University of Helsinki, Finland
Prof Thomas Berendonk, Technishce Universitat Dresden, Germany 

Key words: biotechnology, antimicrobial resistance, microbiome, aquaculture, water

Aquaculture is currently estimated to be the fastest-growing area of food production in the world. Although aquaculture can provide an important food source, these types of farms must be developed in a responsible and sustainable way. The rapid growth of intensive aquaculture systems has already caused important damage affecting both the environment and human health. The surrounding waters are affected by the chaotic algae growth generated by the high quantity of discharged pollutants (organic matters, P and N compounds etc.). This water pollution in some cases can prove deadly for certain aquatic species and indirectly constitute a danger to human population, who end up eating contaminated fishes and uses an inadequate quality water. When an ecosystem becomes too compromised, the fish farm is simply moved elsewhere and the environmental problems remain. Members of this consortium have identified the role of aquaculture as reservoirs of specific antibiotic resistance of importance to human health. In this context, the ABAWARE’s main objectives are to develop and implement innovative technologies for the monitoring of surface and groundwater bodies for effective integrated water and waste management in freshwater aquaculture sectors by developing an advanced biotechnology for intensive recirculated aquaculture systems with minimum costs and footprint. In order to measure the effects of such an innovative system we will assess the nitrate and phosphorus loads from freshwater aquaculture, understand and decrease the environmental risks from freshwater aquaculture to human health (environmental exposure from water uses and food) and the reduce these loads and risks by the implementation of the technology. Thus, providing ways to avoid the risks of eutrophication of rivers and lakes, and propose management approaches for reducing impacts on ecosystem biodiversity and economic sectors. Since these environmental problems and potential solutions concern aspects of human, environmental and animal health, consortium members will implement a multi-channel communication with the stakeholders, researchers, economic agents in the aquaculture field, academics, including students, doctoral students, public and private research institutions, local authorities, government departments and the general public.

Project structure:  

WP 1. A. Research concerning microbiota use as basis for selection of the new technology for wastewater treatment in recirculating aquaculture systems.

WP 1 B. Microbiota & antibiotic resistance identification in freshwater aquaculture systems. 

WP 2. Design and realization of laboratory installation for wastewater treatment with microbial consortia previously selected.
WP 3. Laboratory testing and analysis. WP 4. On site testing and analysis (including microbiota & antibiotic resistance identification in freshwater aquaculture systems post-technology implementation and comparison to non-aquaculture freshwater ecosystems previously sampled).


In relation to Challenge-1, Subtopic-1-a, issues i and iii the ABAWARE have conceived and will test an innovative RAS technology for warm-freshwater aquaculture. The approach rely on a novel method for water recirculation and thus will reduce the amount of fresh water needed for the intensive recirculated aquaculture systems. 95% of the total water volume will be reused in the system and only 5% of the total water volume will be discharged into freshwater ecosystems. Warm-water aquaculture recirculation technologies are popular as they are currently used to produce high quality fish products, employing heat of biogas. In relation to the Challenge-2, Sub-topic-2.d the ABAWARE will perform evaluation of the combined environmental risks associated with the accumulation of antibiotic resistance and chemical pollutants in the closed-loop RAS systems and compare this risks with corresponding risks arising from open/cage aquaculture. Obtained data will be used for further optimisation of our innovative solutions for RAS based aquaculture. In relation to the Challenge-2, Sub-topic-2.c the ABAWARE will perform evaluation and propose the management approaches for reducing impacts of the nitrogen reach suspended solids on eutrophication of aquatic ecosystems. As mentioned above at present SS extracted from RAS are dumped into environment, deposited in the waste landfills or burned in the waste incinerators. The ABAWARE will propose and evaluate innovative methods for bioconversion of the nutrient reach SS into the animal feed grade proteins and/or lipids of green biomass.


The aim of ABAWARE project is the increased efficiency and resilience of water use in aquaculture and
minimisation of its negative impact on the environment and human health. The aim of the projects will be reached through achieving the following deliverables: 1. Development of advanced technology for intensive RAS with minimum costs (investment and operational) and negative environmental impact. Understanding and minimisation of the environmental risks from freshwater aquaculture to human health (environmental exposure from water uses and food).

References coordinator and  leaders of  each WP

Coordinator: Prof Henning Sorum.

WP1: Prof Jana Pickova.
WP2: Dr Corina Moga.
WP3: Dr Ioan Ardelean.
WP4: Prof Marko Virta.
WP5: Dr Fiona Walsh. 

Contact Point for  Communication/Dissemination activities:

Dr Fiona Walsh

Contact Point for Open Data/Open Access activities:

Dr Fiona Walsh

Picture of the research team: