January 23, 2020
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Aquatic Animal Health and Environment Division


Managing aquatic animal health and its environment plays crucial role on the outcome of aquaculture productions. Research on brackishwater aquatic animal health and environment was initiated at the Central Institute of Brackishwater Aquaculture since 1990. Since then the division has grown leaps and bounds in terms of expertise, manpower and facilities. The Aquatic Animal Health and Environment Division or the AAHED in short, has scientists with all relevant specialities and expertise in Microbiology, Virology, Pathology, Parasitology, Biotechnology, Molecular Diagnostics, Soil and water Chemistry, Environment and Aquaculture. The AAHED has state of the art laboratory facilities for carrying out cutting edge research in frontier areas on aquatic animal health and environment management including diagnostics, prophylactics and health management in brackishwater aquaculture.

The advanced facilities have been developed with funding support from ICAR, National Agricultural Research Project (NARP), World Bank, National Agricultural Technology Project (NATP), All India Network Project on Fish health (AINP), Consortia Research Platform on Diagnostics and Vaccines (CRP-D&V), National Innovations in Climate Resilient Agriculture (NICRA) project, Department of Biotechnology and National Fisheries Development Board (NFDB) with dedicated efforts of scientists. A well designed wet lab is also in place for carrying out live aquatic animal experiments and evaluating Koch’s and River’s postulates.

The AAHED has the mandate to carry out research on (i) economically impacting diseases of brackishwater culture species and develop technologies for rapid diagnosis, prophylaxis and control; (ii) brackishwater aquaculture environment and develop mitigatory measures as required; and (iii) provide technical and policy support to the Government on matters pertaining to aquatic animal health and environment management to improve aquaculture productivity.

The AAHED of CIBA was the first to commercialise a diagnostic kit for diagnosis of the dreaded white spot disease of shrimp to a premier Biotechnology company in the year 2002. AAHED has the expertise and capacity to carry out all the proposed levels of diagnostics of OIE listed brackishwater pathogens, and has been serving as a National Referral Laboratory to the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying and Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare, Govt. of India. AAHED made pivotal contribution to the import risk analysis (IRA) of Pacific white shrimp in to India, which has resulted in quadrupling aquaculture production in the country.

The environment section of AAHED has the expertise to look into all aspects of abiotic parameters related to brackishwater aquaculture. Novel methods have been developed for the bioremediation and environmental monitoring of the brackishwater rearing systems, including hatcheries and grow-out farms. The section has developed climate smart solutions such as carrying capacity assessment tools for optimisation of brackishwater aquaculture development. The unit has expertise in climate related matters and capacity for environmental impact assessment.

AAHED, CIBA has been carrying out research on various aspects of prophylactics and therapeutics of brackishwater aquatic animal diseases and has published over 140 research publications in peer reviewed national and international journals, produced 18 Ph. Ds, who are currently employed in key positions in various Institutions in India and abroad. The AAHED since its inception has led the way on brackishwater aquatic animal health management in the country.

Salient Achievements

Nested PCR kit for detection of Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) in shrimp
Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) causes hepatopancreatic microsporidiosis in farmed shrimp and has been a growing concern world over, including India. The disease is often associated with severe growth retardation and/or white faeces syndromes in farmed shrimp. An indigenous cost effective, user friendly diagnostic kit for detection of EHP by nested PCR was developed based on the sequence of 18s small subunit rRNA (SSU rRNA) gene of the EHP isolates in India.

Improved WSSV - PCR diagnostic kit

A simple, sensitive, cost effective and user-friendly improved WSSV - PCR diagnostic kit has been developed based on TATA-box binding protein gene of WSSV. Decapod ß-actin gene has been incorporated as an internal control to eliminate false negative reactions. This assay is designed for the specific and sensitive detection of WSSV and is 10 to 50 times more sensitive than other nested PCR assays. The assay kit contains all the required materials and reagents for DNA isolation and PCR and presented in such a way that handling is limited to the minimum. The kit was commercialised to a start-up company ‘Aura Biotechnologies Limited’, in May 2017.


CIBAMOX is a water probiotic containing an innovative combination of autotrophic ammonia oxidizing, nitrite oxidizing and denitrifying bacterial consortia from coastal environments, selected for their fast growth and high yield and enhanced detoxification efficiency under standard conditions developed for mitigation of nitrogenous wastes in aquaculture ponds. Mass production protocols optimised for ammonia oxidizing, nitrite oxidizing and denitrifying bacteria. Multi-location trials in shrimp ponds at Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu have indicated efficient management of ammonia and total ammonia nitrogen in shrimp ponds. The product effectively removes nitrogenous wastes form aquaculture ponds with salinities ranging from 15-45 ppt.



LUMIPhage is the phage therapy technology for biocontrol of pathogenic vibrios in shrimp hatcheries.The technology has been developed using bacteriophages (or phages in short, are viruses that selectively infect and kill bacteria) capable of against the luminescent bacteria of genus Vibrio. The product contains consortia of bacteriophages having broad spectrum activity against virulent vibrios, selected from a pool of over 35 phages having lytic activity against over 350 luminescent bacterial isolates. Culture conditions have been optimized for producing high yield of bacteriophages in 18 hrs in pilot scale fermenter. The efficacy has been proved in commercial shrimp hatcheries as prophylactic and therapeutic for control of luminescent bacterial disease and improved larval survival.


The ß-Nova RT-PCR kit has been developed for early detection of viral nervous necrosis (VNN) of finfish, caused by beta-nodavirus. The kit offers a rapid, specific and sensitive detection system based on the amplification of the coat protein gene of the virus genome segment RNA2. The kit can be used for routine diagnosis of disease and to screen broodstock, larvae and trash fish used as feed in fish hatcheries and selective breeding programme for pathogen free stock development in freshwater, brackishwater and marine ecosystem.

Diagnostic Kit for White Muscle Disease (WMD) of Giant Freshwater Prawn

A nucleic acid based rtPCR diagnostic kit for white muscle disease of scampi Macrobrachium rosenbergii was developed based on the genomic sequence information generated from Indian strain of Macrobrachium rosenbergii nodavirus. The unique features of the kit are RNA friendly fixative for proper fixation of the tissue sample and an easy viral RNA extraction reagent for the preparation of RNA. This kit is user friendly and cost effective. The kit was evaluated with the infected and uninfected samples of scampi collected from AP, TN, Kerala, and Gujarat, and the results were scientifically validated. The kit was released in 2004.

Nested PCR diagnostic kit for detection of WSSV A nested polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kit for the detection of WSSV of shrimp was developed based on the sequence of genomic fragment of Indian strain of WSSV. The kit offers simplified template DNA extraction protocols, is cost effective, time saving and farmer friendly. It is a powerful and sensitive diagnostic tool which detects pathogen at a very early stage of infection. The PCR kit was commercialised to a premier Biotech Company, “Bangalore Genei” in the year 2002.


2018:LAMP test developed for rapid detection of Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) of shrimp.
2017:Draft Genome Sequence of the Luminescent Strain of Vibrio campbellii LB102, deciphered.
Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP), an merging pathogen in brackishwater aquaculture, detected in Indian brackishwater aquaculture.
Protocols for enumeration of viruses in brackishwater bodies standardized.
RNA interference technology using dsRNA targeting the structural and non-structural genes and their antiviral effects against WSD and MBV established.
Occurrence of WSSV genotypes with respect to variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) across different geographical locations and wild and cultured crab and shrimp species documented.
Freedom from acute hepatopancreatic necrosis disease (AHPND) or early mortality syndrome (EMS) of farmed shrimp in brackishwater aquaculture in India demonstrated.
Information on the viability of WSSV in aquaculture ecosystem generated.
The economic impact of diseases in brackishwater aquaculture during 2005-07 was estimated to be 48717 metric tonnes of product valued to the tune of Rs.1022.13 crore per year.
Software for the estimation of carrying capacity of water body for shrimp farming developed.
Import risk analysis (IRA) of Penaeus (Litopenaeus) vannamei conducted for the Department of Animal Husbandry Dairying & Fisheries (DADF), Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers’ Welfare, Government of India.
WSSV-PCR ring testing among Aqua PCR labs conducted in collaboration with MPEDA.
The mysis 2 stage was identified as the crucial stage for the attack of luminescent bacterial disease in shrimp hatcheries.
Hazard Analysis & Critical Control Points (HACCP) for aquaculture introduced.
Piscine nodavirus detected in finfish in the Indian sub-continent.
Harmonisation of WSSV PCR testing by Aqua PCR labs conducted in collaboration with CSIRO/NACA and MPEDA.
Polychaete worms identified as important vectors of WSSV.
Criteria for the selection of microbes as candidate probiotics require a re-look
Host range of white spot syndrome virus (WSSV) in shrimp, prawns, crabs and lobsters revealed.
A comprehensive bulletin on the diseases of shrimp, their diagnosis, prevention and control published.
Mass mortality of tiger shrimp farms located along the Kandaleru creek in Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh was diagnosed as Infectious hepatopancreatic and lymphoid organ necrosis (IHLN), a disease similar to yellow head.
Monodon baculovirus (MBV) detected in Indian white shrimp P. indicus for the first time.
: Mortality of giant tiger shrimp in TASPARC shrimp farms at Nellore diagnosed due to bacterial septicaemia.



1.Sensitization Training on “Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) detection of Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) in shrimp” 17th and 18th of August 2017.

2. Secretary DARE and DG ICAR Dr.Trilochan Mohapatra released a DNA based diagnostic kit for the screening of EHP disease of shrimp on 7th August 2017.

3. Honourable Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Shri Radha Mohan Singh Releases of CIBAMOX at 89th Foundation day celebrations of ICAR on 16th July 2017.

4. Training programme on “Recent advances in soil and water management in brackishwater aquaculture” held from 20th to 24th June to 2017

5. Improved version of White Spot Syndrome (WSSV) diagnostic kit Technology Transfer to Start-up Company ‘Aura Biotechnologies Limited, Chennai on 11th May 2017.

6. Training Programme for Export Inspection Agency (EIA) officials on “Field level diagnosis, prevention and control of diseases of shrimp and finfish in brackishwater aquaculture” conducted on 19th and 20th January 2017.

7. A National Seminar on ‘Prophylaxis in Aquaculture’ organised on 16th November 2016.

8. Training workshop – cum – Aquaculture Health Camp on “Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation Measures in Brackishwater Aquaculture’’ in Ramanathapuram District, Tamil Nadu organised on 28th September, 2016.

9. A National workshop on ‘Capacity building and harmonisation of PCR diagnosis of aquatic animal diseases’ conducted from 3rd to 5th October 2016.

10. Aquaculture Health Camp organised at Chinnathumbur village in Nagapattinam district in Tamil Nadu on 19th August 2016.

11. A National Workshop on Antibiotic Residue Issue in Shrimp Aquaculture organised on 18th August 2016.

12. A National Consultation on Early Mortality Syndrome (EMS) or Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Disease (AHPND) of Shrimps conducted on 16th June 2016.

13. A National workshop on antibiotic residue analysis in aquatic environment was organized by CIBA and CIFT on 12th February 2016.

14. A National Consultation on the Management of the emerging pathogen, Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP) and related issues in Indian Shrimp aquaculture sector, was held on 19th January 2016

15. Distribution of soil and water health card to aquaculture farmers begins on 19th December, 2015.

16. Forging new partnerships: A MoU signed with Seafood Exporters Association of India (SEAI) to ensure quality of shrimp on 17th December 2015

17. Dedicated Hands-on training programme on "Aquatic Animal Health Management in Brackishwater Aquaculture" conducted from 30th November to 5th December 2015.

18. All India Network Project on Fish Health (AINP) launched on June 20, 2015.