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Transgenic Microalgae Expressing Double-Stranded RNA as Potential Feed Supplements for Controlling White Spot Syndrome in Shrimp Aquaculture

Charoonnart, Patai, Taunt, Henry Nicholas, Yang, Luyao, Webb, Conner, Robinson, Colin, Saksmerprome, Vanvimon, Purton, Saul (2023) Transgenic Microalgae Expressing Double-Stranded RNA as Potential Feed Supplements for Controlling White Spot Syndrome in Shrimp Aquaculture. Microorganisms, 11 (8). Article Number 1893. ISSN 2076-2607. (doi:10.3390/microorganisms11081893) (KAR id:102382)


Viral infection of farmed fish and shellfish represents a major issue within the aquaculture industry. One potential control strategy involves RNA interference of viral gene expression through the oral delivery of specific double-stranded RNA (dsRNA). In previous work, we have shown that recombinant dsRNA can be produced in the chloroplast of the edible microalga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and used to control disease in shrimp. Here, we report a significant improvement in antiviral dsRNA production and its use to protect shrimp against white spot syndrome virus (WSSV). A new strategy for dsRNA synthesis was developed that uses two convergent copies of the endogenous rrnS promoter to drive high-level transcription of both strands of the WSSV gene element in the chloroplast. Quantitative RT-PCR indicated that ~119 ng dsRNA was produced per liter of culture of the transgenic microalga. This represents an ~10-fold increase in dsRNA relative to our previous report. The engineered alga was assessed for its ability to prevent WSSV infection when fed to shrimp larvae prior to a challenge with the virus. The survival of shrimp given feed supplemented with dried alga containing the dsRNA was significantly enhanced (~69% survival) relative to a negative control (<10% survival). The findings suggest that this new dsRNA production platform could be employed as a low-cost, low-tech control method for aquaculture.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.3390/microorganisms11081893
Additional information: For the purpose of open access, the author(s) has applied a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) licence to any Author Accepted Manuscript version arising.
Uncontrolled keywords: Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, shrimp aquaculture, chloroplast engineering, white spot syndrome virus, RNA interference, double-stranded RNA
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Q Science > QH Natural history > QH426 Genetics
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Natural Sciences > Biosciences
Funders: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (
SWORD Depositor: JISC Publications Router
Depositing User: JISC Publications Router
Date Deposited: 16 Aug 2023 14:45 UTC
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 10:13 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Webb, Conner.

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Robinson, Colin.

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