Sea-lebrating our new fish-free omega-3 oils

By Natalie Kikken

22 July 2020

3 minute read

Micrograph close-up of Thraustochytrid

Little in size, big on impact. We’re using a marine microorganism as an alternative source of omega-3 oils. Credit: Dion Frampton

Omega-3 fatty acids are well known for supporting our health. They assist with brain and eye development and cognition, particularly in early childhood. They may also decrease the risk of cardiovascular diseases, neural disorders, arthritis, asthma and skin diseases.

If you’re not getting enough from your diet, you might take supplements or look for foods with added omega-3.

Omega-3 oils are traditionally derived from fish, but now we have a less fishy alternative. We’re isolating microbes from the ocean to extract the omega-3 oils. Industry can then add it to food and beverages, such as infant formula, to increase nutritional value.

This is o-mega good news for vegetarians and vegans. Importantly, our product can also help reduce pressure on global fish stocks and krill.

It’s in the micronutrient detail

We produce the marine-derived omega-3s using specific strains of unique thraustochytrids. Pronounced throst-toh-kit-rids, these are a single-cell marine organism. We identify the strains that produce the desired omega-3 oils. Then we isolate them for use as a sustainable and renewable source of omega-3s.

There are a range of industry uses for the new oils that will have commercial benefits too. The infant formula industry, for example, is an $89 billion global market. The new oil can also be used in aquaculture feed, to boost the nutritional content.

Kim Lee Chang in a lab wearing a white coat and smiling at the camera

Our research scientist, Kim Lee Chang, is leading the development with Pharmamark Innovation.

Industry can’t sustainably meet the growing demand for omega-3 oils from wild fish alone.

Our omega-3 oil is an environmentally-friendly alternative. They need less fresh water and land than other sourced omega-3 oils. Additionally, they don’t need pesticides or herbicides. This will help meet the growing demand for these essential nutrients. So, it’s good news for our oceans and our health.

Planting new omega-3 opportunities

Our technology is leaving the lab to boost Australia’s blue economy. And improve our health at the same time.

We are partnering with Pharmamark Innovation to commercialise our technology. They’re an Aussie nutrition technology business. Our partnership will build business opportunities for our nation through sustainable use of ocean resources.

Infographic of the process of developing marine-sourced omega-3 oils

From the ocean to the lab to new industry opportunities. Our partnership with Pharmamark Innovation will boost Australia’s blue economy.

Pharmamark Innovation aims to produce these marine-sourced oils on a commercial scale and sell into the global food and beverage market.

This will unlock significant economic potential from a novel source of omega-3 oils. It will also contribute to Australia’s growing ‘blue economy’ target of $100 billion annual revenue by 2025. It builds on our research in omega-3 development using canola for animal feeds and human nutrition.