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AQUA-SAFE: Enhancing safety and security of Aquaponics technology for fish and vegetable cultivation

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  • Projektleiter/in : Prof. Dr. Ranka Junge
  • Projektteam : Andreas Graber, Matthias Lutz, Alex Mathis, Ivaylo Nikolaev Sirakov
  • Projektvolumen : CHF 90'000
  • Projektstatus : abgeschlossen
  • Drittmittelgeber : Andere
  • Projektpartner : Trakia University Stara Gora, Bulgaria
  • Kontaktperson : Ranka Junge


The development of sustainable aquaculture is highly appreciated and supported by the EU and is also one of the priorities of the National Strategic Plan for Fisheries and Aquaculture of Bulgaria.

Aquaponics is a sustainable aquaculture techology which combines fish and plant production in one recirculating system. In aquaponics both, warm-water (tilapia), and cold/cool-water fish species (rainbow trout, arctic charr, Acipenseridae spp.) are objects of cultivation.The list of plants that can be cultivated in hydroponics is practically endless.

The questions of food safety and security are gaining global importance recently. The structure and function of the microbial community in aquaculture and aquaponics is central for both, the functioning of the water treatment process, and the food security. In order to establish Aquaponics as accepted technology, it is imperative to address these questions. Nevertheless there is still an alarming lack of studies.

AQUA-SAFE proposes to fill this knowledge gap by studying the properties of microbial community of Aquaponics operated at warm-water and cold-water temperature levels.

Rhizosphere microbes can be beneficial for the plants and can form stable biofilms on the plant’s roots. They either promote directly the plant growth or they protect the plant against soil-borne diseases. We hypothesise that these beneficial effects will also reflect on enhanced water treatment. AQUA-SAFE proposes to improve the plant-mediated-water treatment process by inoculation of Pseudomonas fluorescens, a bacteria whose strains improve root and plant growth and also has antagonistic abilities against some plant and fish pathogenic microbes.

The effects of bioaugmentation will be studied in mesocosm Aquaponic systems, using cold/cool- water fish species, and vegetable varieties with a well established cultivation protocol, such as tomato and cucumber.