Instrumental Access 2020
Olusegun Agagu University of Science and TechnologyDepartment of Biological Sciences
In Southwest Nigeria, advancing research to support the coastal economy
Meet our Awardee
Olusegun Agagu University of Science and Technology (OAUSTech) is one of 10 universities of technology in the country, and the only one in the coastal and deltaic region of Southwest Nigeria. Founded in 2010, the university was commissioned to create home-grown solutions to the challenges from oil pollution that affects the fishing industry along the coast and waterways of Ondo State.
The Department of Biological Sciences is focused on training students in molecular biology techniques and teaching about aquaculture and fisheries. Degrees are offered in Botany, Fisheries and Aquaculture, Microbiology, and Zoology.
Research AreasThe department's research interests include bioremediation and bioaugumentation strategies for oil-polluted coastal regions; antimicrobial resistance; and molecular epidemiology of fisheries and aquaculture-associated diseases.
Equipment will enable us to have accurate and better results, which researchers can use to modify agricultural policy and disseminate to fisheries and other allied groups."
Shoring Up the Fishing Economy: Professor Funmilola Agbebi
Funmilola Omolara Agbebi, PhD, (right) professor in the Department of Biology at OAUSTech, is an expert in all things aquaculture: fishery economics, marine policy, toxicology, harvest techniques, sustainability, and more. In the Niger Delta, where the university is located, fishing is a major source of nutrition and income for the local population.
Recently, a significant portion of stocked catfish is lost each year to disease outbreaks in culture ponds. The loss of the juvenile Clarias gariepinus is a significant economic event for residents of the region, where the fish is considered a staple protein and is sold widely at local markets.
"These losses are significant when considered on a national scale and may lead to malnutrition, unemployment, and loss of foreign exchange earnings," she explains.
Professor Agbebi is investigating ways to prevent this type of mass mortality of fish, and in turn, protect the nutrition and livelihoods of those in the area.
Use of synthetic antimicrobials has resulted in growing antimicrobial resistance in the aquatic environment, so Professor Agbebi focused her work on organic methods of disease prevention using local plants.
"Medicinal plants have been safely used in organic aquaculture and may be used as potential and promising drugs against fish pathogens," she says.
Professor Agbebi is focused on the potential in two widely available local plants, stonebreaker (Phyllantus niruri) and blood root (Justicia secunda). Early results show that, when added to the diets of the fish, these plants promote enhanced growth and increase the fish’s survival. Importantly, this natural approach does not cause antibacterial resistance.
The next step is to understand how the compounds in these plants interact. With this knowledge, Professor Agbebi hopes to eventually formulate a vaccine to protect the fish—and safeguard the fishing industry.
But to perform molecular analysis on this level, Professor Agbebi needs specialized equipment not available at OAUSTech. Instrumental Access equipment will give her the ability to conduct thorough molecular analyses of plants, fish, and the water, yielding crucial insights that may allow the team to increase the health of the local waterways and those who rely on them.
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Having this equipment will mean the whole world to both the staff and students. This will definitely ease a lot of stress and strain and will put us on the path towards being a hub of research development."
About the DepartmentLocation: Okitipupa, Nigeria
Year Established: 2010
Students Impacted Annually: 1,000 undergraduate
Why Instrumental Access?As a young university challenged with a limited governmental budget, the Department of Biological Sciences needs equipment to outfit its teaching labs and add molecular biology research capacity. They also hope to use equipment to support new postgraduate degree programs.
Shipment StatusArrived on campus at OAUSTech in May 2020
About Instrumental Access
To begin, we identify a pipeline of scientific talent. Then we rigorously screen universities and select those with the most potential to advance education and research through Instrumental Access.