Mr. Joseph Carlo V. Vergel, a Master of Science in Biological Sciences student of the Graduate School, along with his adviser, Prof. Mary Beth B. Maningas, PhD, won the Best Research Paper Award for the Basic Research Category, during the 3rd National Fisheries Biotechnology Symposium, held from November 13-15, 2017 in Central Luzon State University, Muñoz, Nueva Ecija.

According to the abstract, “a great decline in production from shrimp aquaculture production was observed due to the White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) which continues to prevail despite many preventive measures applied to deter the virus. RNA interference (RNAi) technology, which introduces double stranded RNA to specifically destroy cognate mRNA, was employed to reveal functions of sequence specific genes in the virus and its host with the aim of controlling WSSV by elucidating complex host-virus interactions.”

The study reported “the first record of Raf gene in a crustacean system. PvRaf serves as central intermediate in many signalling pathways, ultimately regulating cell proliferation, differentiation, development, and innate immune system responses, by connecting upstream tyrosine kinases with downstream serine/threonine kinases. Moreover, PvRaf is ubiquitously expressed in the vital organs of the shrimp suggesting that it is essential to metabolic functions of the shrimp and may also play a role in its innate immune system as highlighted in its expression in the haemocytes. Four set-ups were prepared to analyze the sequence specific silencing of PvRaf namely: PvRaf-dsRNA treatment, GFP-dsRNA treatment, PBS treatment, and naive control. Statistical analysis of the mortality assay indicates that PvRaf-dsRNA treatment has a significant protective effect against WSSV compared to GFP-dsRNA and PBS treatments.”

The entire shrimp aquaculture project is a multi-year endeavor spearheaded by Maningas, who leads the UST Ebi Team.

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