Researchers from the Federal University of Lavras (UFLA) have developed an innovative technology to change the sex of tilapia, opening new perspectives in aquaculture and the production of healthy and sustainable foods.
Sex change in tilapia has many significant purposes and benefits. Male fish, once returned, have characteristics that make them highly desirable in the aquaculture industry. First, they are more resistant to diseases, reducing the need for medical treatment and associated costs. Additionally, male fish are less aggressive, making it easier to manage populations in production tanks.
Another relevant feature is that during final collection, the size of returned males shows greater uniformity, which simplifies harvesting logistics. In addition, they grow faster, which speeds up the production process and improves economic efficiency.
The most commonly used technique to achieve this sex change is hormonal, which involves adding masculinizing substances to the fish’s diet when they are young. Over time, this hormone stimulates the development of fish into males.
The technology, developed by university researchers, stands out for its ability to reduce the total amount of hormone needed for gender transition.
As the university explains, methyltestosterone, the chemical responsible for masculinizing fish, is incorporated into the cyclodextrin molecule. As a result of this union, the scientifically added complex, by slowly dissolving in water, reduces the need for hormones, which has been proven by in vitro experiments. This not only makes the process more efficient, but also reduces environmental impacts by reducing the amount of chemical waste dumped into production tanks.
Also, the benefits of this technology extend to the end consumer. Fish produced using this method is healthy and of high quality, making it an attractive option for those who value the quality of their food.
Researcher Luciana de Matos Alves Pinto, along with master’s student Lucas Braganza de Carvalho, led this innovative project at the University’s Graduate Program in Agricultural Chemistry. Professor Luis David Solis Murgas and Professor Ana Paula Peconic, Professor Thiago Venancio from the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) and postgraduate student Alin Ferreira Sosa de Carvalho contributed to the study.
All these experts are the inventors of this technology, which is patented by UFLA.