KYTOS Vietnam: Our First Data Factory!

When will you be locally present in my country ?

Every KYTOS customer

Data Factories: What Are Those?

After having been unable to satisfy the above question numerous times, we’re excited to take a big step forward on our march to bring our microbiome management services to Asia. As mentioned in a previous post our strategic partnership with I&V Bio enables us to set up local data factories. KYTOS data factories are local sample processing spots where samples are routed, processed and all the data is fed to our proprietary algorithms. In a nutshell, this means we can improve our turnaround drastically and build local relationships with our customers.

Over the past weeks the team has been extremely busy implementing and benchmarking our hardware, software, and service components in our first Vietnam Data Factory (Lot 53, Hoa Thanh Village, An Hai Commune, Ninh Phuoc District, Ninh Thuan Province, Vietnam). Bottom-line: It’s been a blast and commercial activities will ensue in August!

The team setting up KYTOS Vietnam (Ruben, Ngân, Jasmine).

Managing our Data Factory

We’re happy to announce that Ngân will be the manager of our Vietnam data factory, together with her team she’ll be responsible for handling sample logistics & analysis and technical support to our customers. We couldn’t be more pleased to have her be part of our growing team!

One of the core tenets at KYTOS is the freedom to pursue continuous and deep professional development along any (non-)technical axis. Without further ado, Ngân will also be pursuing a parallel PhD track at Ghent University and the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology under supervision of renowned professors Nico Boon and Tom Defoirdt. Her research will bring forth radical innovation in the microbiome management of Carp and Barramundi aquaculture, both new and important markets for KYTOS. She’s also been one of the drivers of our collaboration with Worldfish and will be able to continue this fruitful collaboration during her research.

Feel free to contact her at ngan@kytos.be.

KYTOS Vietnam lab manager: Ngân braving the calm sea!

Bridging the Divide

Proper microbiome management occurs at the intersection of technology and domain knowledge (i.e. industry experience). At KYTOS we work closely alongside industry leaders to ensure that we fine-tune our technology to meet the industries’ expectations and needs.

Visits such as this one to Australis, one of the leading Barramundi farmers, couldn’t have been more fruitful as we laid the groundwork for future research interests and needs of Barramundi production.

KYTOS and the Australis R&D team meeting up at their production facilities in Vietnam. 19/07/2022

New aquaculture alliance with Aqua Pharma Group & eFishery

Aquaculture disease management and dynamic dosing expert Aqua Pharma are joining forces with microbial fingerprinting experts KYTOS to develop SEATRU™ – a unique new service platform offering shrimp farmers worldwide effective microbial control through precise dosing recommendations.
The initiative is set to start later this month (June 2022) with a two-year research project based in Indonesia with local partner eFishery, the world’s largest aquaculture tech start-up.

Our priority at Aqua Pharma is to provide disease prevention and control systems to the aquaculture industry with fish and shrimp welfare at the forefront. We are delighted to have teamed up with KYTOS to further develop SEATRU™ – a tool which will use the power of KYTOS technology to read the aquaculture microbiome of farms, anticipating and reducing disease thanks to individually tailored and precise dosing of eco-friendly health management solutions.

Markus Wu, Head of Office Indonesia for Solvay and Aqua Pharma at Aqua Pharma Group

Shrimp farmers are currently hampered by a lack of reliable data on water quality and animal health, resulting in frequent unpredictable disease outbreaks. SEATRU™ will allow farmers to adopt a preventative management approach, using best-in-class products like Aqualisan® to increase production, sustainability and profitability.

Markus Wu (Aqua Pharma) Priyandaru Agung (eFishery), Marc Indigne (COO, Kytos)

KYTOS specializes in analysing data of individual microbial cells and leverages that big data to create a holistic view of the health situation of aquaculture systems. Our expertise in microbial fingerprinting technology is a perfect fit with our joint vision of unlocking sustainable aquaculture through precision farming. Together our work on the SEATRU™ concept is transforming aquaculture by researching and developing advanced technologies in microbial monitoring, animal gut health, disinfectant treatments and artificial intelligence to create stable water conditions and ensure increased performance.

Ruben Props, co-founder and CEO at KYTOS

According to WWF*, over 55% of the shrimp consumed worldwide is farmed, with a market growth of 8% over the past decade. The annual loss to the shrimp industry as a result of disease is estimated at $6 billion per year. The research project is due to run from June 2022 until mid-2024, after which commercial scaling will follow.

Our main objective is to provide shrimp farmers in Indonesia with peace of mind and the tools to produce a stable performance and improved harvests throughout the year. The SEATRU™ concept brings that stability and potential for growth to farmers. Disease prevention is the number one challenge facing shrimp aquaculture today. With disease able to completely wipe out a pond in five days the sector urgently needs effective preventative methods. Innovative new pond reading technologies combined with eco-friendly products like Aqualisan® for shrimp pond management have huge potential to improve the welfare of the shrimp and the profitability of the sector.

Gibran Huzaifah, CEO of eFishery

ABOUT AQUA PHARMA GROUP

Backed by parent companies Solvay, the 10B EUR global leader in sustainable materials and solutions, and Aquatiq, a Norwegian leader in food safety, Aqua Pharma Group develops and delivers disease prevention and control systems for the aquaculture industry. Its concepts and innovations ensure minimal environmental impact and maximum animal welfare and contribute to the successful scaling of sustainably managed fish and shrimp to meet the global growing demand for healthy proteins

https://aqua-pharma.com/
hanne.mertens@aqua-pharma.com

ABOUT KYTOS

KYTOS is a microbiome technology company developing microbiome management solutions at the frontier of technological innovation. Originating at the Center for Microbial Ecology and Technology (CMET) at Ghent University, it builds on decades of world-leading expertise in the management of microbial communities. KYTOS transforms its partners into expert microbiome health stewards by empowering them with a unique blend of data science, technology, and microbial ecology insights.

ruben@kytos.be

ABOUT eFishery

eFishery believes that aquaculture is the future. Using technological advancements it is constructing an end-to-end value chain for fish and shrimp farming businesses, resulting in an integrated, sustainable ecosystem resilient enough to strengthen global food security for the future. eFishery aims to ensure aquaculture provides the world with its main source of animal protein, one not only rich in nutrients but accessible to everyone.

https://efishery.com/en/

Microbiome Health Assessment In Greenhouses – Part 1

The Great Unknown: Microbes in Greenhouses

With crop losses of billions of dollars annually, microbial diseases pose a large threat for the hydroponics sector. As most farmers know, the recirculation water in a hydroponics installation is one of the main sources responsible for the introduction and spread (so-called “vector”) of phytopathogens. Hydroponics systems therefore require almost constant water management to control microbial disease pressures on the crops. To be able to manage these systems KYTOS helps farmers and other stakeholders:

  • Identify the water sources where there is a low microbial health situations
  • Connect the health deviations with climate and other operational factors
  • Assess the risk for a disease outbreak
  • Take action via the right treatments

Unfortunately, information regarding the microbiome health within hydroponics greenhouses is incredibly scarce. This makes it difficult for farmers, but also solution providers to know what’s really happening in their greenhouse(s). KYTOS partnered with Tomato Masters to finally shed a first light on the microbial health status within tomato greenhouses. We are proud to share our results with the world.

Our Sampling Approach for Three Greenhouses

Each greenhouse is unique and we thus had to optimize our sampling scheme for each one of them. The first two sampled greenhouses consisted of four tap sections (“kraanvakken“) with individual irrigation systems. The samples were taken from the main tap of the greenhouse (“hoofdkraan“) and from the distribution line at each of the four tap sections (“druppelleiding“). The third greenhouse had a different tap section layout and there we sampled the 204 individual drains (“goten“) that are used to collect drainwater from the plant substrate.

Sampling with our KytoVials is so easy and quick, the team was able to collect over 220 biosecure samples in < 1 hour!

Schematic illustration of the layout of the sampled greenhouses at Tomato Masters. A) Layout of the greenhouses at which the main tap and distribution line in each of the tap sections was sampled. B) Layout of the greenhouse where individual drains were sampled.

Findings

Tap Sections House Different Microbiomes

Our supervised learning toolbox KytoFlow was able to pick up some important observations (Figure 1). The average bacterial load in the main tap and irrigation water of the tap sections were almost identical with only a maximum difference of 3x between the tap sections.

Our recently developed algorithm for the detection of common water molds such as oomycetes spores (e.g. Pythium, Phytophthora) revealed that the lowest load was observed at the main tap while larger differences in oomycete load were found across the tap sections (up to 100x).

In simple terms: the microbial water quality strongly deteriorated over the tap sections specifically due to the accumulation of water mold spores. Tap sections 3 and 4 were found to be of higher risk for greenhouse #1, and sections 2 and 3 for greenhouse #2.

Fun fact: A big advantage of our Oomycetes algorithm is that it is able to identify the zoospores, which are the motile phenotypes of these water molds, and pose the highest risk for disease migration.

Figure 1. Bacterial load and oomycetes risk indicators measured in the main tap and individual tap sections of the two first greenhouses.

Drain Microbiomes Differ Across Tap Sections

Greenhouses are known to have hotspots for microbe-related problems as well as differences in crop performances between production rows. The drains in a greenhouse carry the microbiome from the input water to the plant and substrate microbiomes. The microbiome can thus change considerably due to differences in plant exudates, climate, or farm management. For Tomato Masters, we completely screened the microbial water quality of all production rows (Figure 2).

Bacterial and Water Mold Pressures Can Differ Strongly Between Drains

  • 10 % of all drains could be classified as hotspots (based on IQR of 1.5).
  • Every tap section has hotspots for water molds and bacterial growth.
  • Tap sections #1 (orange) and #2 (red) were the cleanest for water molds, but there were many drains with over 1000-fold higher spore loads.
  • Tap sections #2 (blue) and #4 (teal) had elevated spore loads for nearly all drains.

Diversity and Microbiome Types are Dependent on Tap Section

  • The microbial diversity, which is a proxy for a healthy and resilient microbiome, showed a wavy pattern throughout the greenhouse.
  • Drains with the highest diversity were located at the beginning and end of the tap sections.
  • We identified four different types of microbiome in the drains. Tap sections 3 and 4 were strongly enriched in other microbiome types than the clean drains (1 and 2). More than 50 % of all drains had a type 3 or type 4 microbiome.
Figure 2. Bacterial load, oomycetes risk indicator, diversity and microbiome types measured in 204 individual, consecutive gutters of a greenhouse. Each label color corresponds to a tap section in the greenhouse. The black lines are smoothed lowess fits and highlight the trends in the data.

Take Home

  • Microbial hotspots exist in greenhouses and they can be found both within individual tap sections, as well as concentrated within specific tap sections.
  • There are gradual gradients in microbiome characteristics found across the drains, suggesting climate and design related impacts (ongoing work – part 2).
  • Both incoming and irrigation water can be highly variable in quality despite originating from the same input water.
  • Different drains house different microbiome types, bacterial load and diversity and oomycetes load. Targeted and precise management of these hotpots will be the key.

We hope these data have showcased that the routine analysis of microbiomes is crucial and and that it is the key to improved microbiome management. We believe that farmers can now use these data feeds to create more stable microbial water quality conditions for the benefit of their crops via the targeted use of biostimulants, disinfectants, and other products.

Stay tuned for the launch of our horticulture services which will include the following benefits:

  • Weekly analysis and next business day reporting
  • Logistics arranged for you
  • Flexible sampling schemes
  • Fixed monthly cost

So What’s Next?

In part 2 of this work we’ll discuss more in-depth technical results on how we can relate these microbiome health characteristics to farm KPIs such as row-based production numbers and climate measurements.

About Tomato Masters

Tomato Masters is an innovative Flemish family business that is specialized in the hydroponic farming of tomatoes. The company owns 21 hectares of horticulture, spread across over four greenhouses. Sustainability is one of the key company values and therefore there is a strong effort to use water as efficiently as possible.

Curious about the microbiome health status of your greenhouses?