Last month researchers at the University of Arizona had a breakthrough in the mystery of the Early Mortality Syndrome, a disease which has resulted in massive losses in shrimp farming. The research group, led by Dr. Don Lightner confirmed the bacteria strain Vibrio parahaemolyticus initiated by a viral phage to be the causative agent of the disease, also known as Acute Hepatopancreatic Necrosis Syndrome, or AHPNS. Discovery of the specific pathogen brings treatment and prevention closer to becoming a reality.

Researchers have also studied the effects of antibiotics on EMS in shrimp. The practical trials showed that supplying shrimps with a high dosage of antibiotics resulted in an  EMS -free cycle; however, due to the risk of antibiotic-resistant bacteria and the negative effects on international trading possibilities, the use of high dosages of antibiotics is not the preferred method of treatment.  

Framelco, the Netherlands-based manufacturer of feed additives, has been testing new products to fight  EMS/AHPNS. The company is working with several research groups in order to find a solution to combat the disease. A specific blend of 1-monoglycerides (patented products) has been developed to fight both the viral and bacterial causative agents. The team successfully produced the first  EMS-free cycle on an  EMS-infected farms.

Improved health

1-Monoglycerides are well known for their effective inhibiting properties on different bacteria strains and fat-coated viruses. The molecules are produced by linking a fatty acid to the alpha-position of a glycerol molecule by esterification. In collaborated research with the University of Lisbon's pharmaceutical department, the studies showed that Framelco's 1-monoglycerides disturb specific structures within the membranes of bacteria and destabilize the fat-envelope of viruses, thereby inhibiting the multiplication of these pathogens. The molecules are effective during the entire gastrointestinal tract and are also taken up by the blood stream.


According to the company, 1-monoglycerides have been used in agriculture for several years now, and trials have shown that dietary inclusion of 1-monoglycerides successfully improves animal health and reduced the use of antibiotics and other medicines. 

1-Monoglycerides are very stable with neutral odor and taste, pH independent and heat stable up to at least 160 degrees Celsius, making it a suitable product for processing.

Currently, additional trials are being conducted in Vietnam and Thailand to further adjust the product to specifically battle  EMS in shrimp. Since not all factors influencing the treatment are fully investigated, Framelco is searching for more farms with  EMS  problems to test the products. Companies willing to test the product-curative or preventive-should contact the Aquaculture Department of Framelco via