Malaysian researchers are using palm oil mill effluent to grow bacteria, ultimately transforming the waste product into a food source for fish larvae.

Scanning electron microscope image of bacteria grown in palm oil mill effluent.

In countries that encourage palm oil cultivation, the discharge of palm oil mill effluent (POME) is often a serious environmental problem. Researchers at the University of Malaya have now shown that bacteria grown in palm oil mill effluent (called POME-BAC) can transform this waste product into nutrients suitable for culturing rotifers – the tiny aquatic animals that fish larvae feast on.

The team estimates that about 50 litres of POME ultimately produces enough rotifers to feed more than one million fish larvae. The use of POME-BAC could help solve the woes of Southeast Asian fish hatcheries that depend on the unhygienic practice of growing rotifers in fermented trash fish broth.

For further information contact:

Professor Dr Chong Ving Ching
Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences/Institute of Biological Sciences
Faculty of Science, University of Malaya, Malaysia