CIIMAR's research will be essential for ensuring the authenticity of diets developed in the Pep4Fish project.

Test developed to confirm origin of novel feed ingredients

DNA extraction technique will help with labelling of fish fed with animal by-product hydrolysates 


Researchers involved in a €21.7 million (£18.6m) project to create new diets for farmed fish have identified the best method to test the authenticity of novel ingredients made from agricultural by-products.

Pep4Fish is a Portuguese project that aims to formulate diets for sea bass and sea bream aquaculture, based on new, highly nutritious hydrolysates created from fish, poultry, pork, and insect by-products. 

Protein hydrolysate allows amino acids to be absorbed by the body more rapidly than intact proteins, thus maximising nutrient delivery to muscle tissues. In addition to improving fish health, the new diets reduce food waste following the principles of the circular economy.

Research carried out as part of Pep4Fish focused on optimising DNA extraction methods from the highly processed by-products, aiming to ensure the authenticity of these new ingredients. This will enable the fish to meet labelling requirements, particularly in the expanding Halal food market.

Scientists from Portugal’s Interdisciplinary Centre of Marine and Environmental Research (CIIMAR) carried out the study and have now published their findings in the journal Frontiers in Chemistry.

Validated with PCR

With the participation of partner companies, including Savinor and Sorgal (both part of the Soja de Portugal group), as well as Sebol and ITS - Indústria Transformadora de Subprodutos (both part of the ETSA - Animal By-Product Transforming Company group), the CIIMAR research team led by Luísa Valente established the most effective extraction method.

The results revealed that the method enabled the extraction of high-quality DNA simply and quickly. The effectiveness of the method was validated using PCR technique.

In addition to scientific research, the Pep4Fish project promotes an open and collaborative approach with industrial applicability, including significant investment in companies to increase necessary production capacity. With this project, two new diets will be developed for the industry, one for sea bass and another for gilthead sea bream, based on four new hydrolysates produced in Portugal.

Pep4Fish partner companies include Portuguese sea bass and sea bream farmer Seaculture, owned by supermarket chain Jerónimo Martins. The retailer also owns 25% of Norwegian land-based fish farmer Andfjord Salmon.