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Naked Clams to open a new sector in sustainable nutritious food production

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Willer, David Frederick  ORCID logo
Shipway, J Reuben 
Aldridge, David 
Mehrshahi, Payam 
Smith, Alison 


The global population urgently requires alternative food sources that provide the micronutrient-rich profile of meat and fish but with lower environmental cost. We present a solution in the form of ‘Naked Clams’ (teredinids/shipworms) - a seldom researched group of bivalves, that feature tiny shells and live in and feed on wood, turning it into protein and essential nutrients. We report the first pilot system for Naked Clam aquaculture, the first nutritional profile and feeding efficacy assessment, and demonstrate value offered by microencapsulated feeds in fortifying Naked Clams. Naked Clams were rich in nutrients including vitamin B12 and monounsaturated fatty acids, and shared the high protein content of conventional bivalves such as blue mussels (Mytilus edulis). Microencapsulated algal feeds enriched the Naked Clams with essential PUFAs including EPA and DHA, with potential for further tailoring. Additional work is required, but this study represents a gateway to a new form of sustainable food production.



30 Agricultural, Veterinary and Food Sciences, 3005 Fisheries Sciences, Nutrition, 3.3 Nutrition and chemoprevention, 3 Prevention of disease and conditions, and promotion of well-being, 2 Zero Hunger

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npj Sustainable Agriculture

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Nature Research
D.F.W. was funded by a Henslow Fellowship at Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge, and also the British Ecological Society (SR21/1376) and Fishmongers’ Company. J.R.S was funded by the National Science Foundation award (NSF-IOS ID1940165). Both D.F.W and J.R.S were supported by the Seale Hayne Educational Trust. D.C.A. was funded by a Dawson’s Fellowship at St Catherine's College, University of Cambridge. KPP, AGS, LA, PM were supported by funding from Royal Society International Collaboration Awards 2019 ICA\R1\191196, and Research England GCRF QR 2018-19.