Brisbane scientists have developed a new food source set to improve the livelihoods of 60-million people living in poverty in south-east Asia.

A new fast-growing prawn, developed here at the Queensland University of Technology, has already been introduced to the Mekong River which runs through six countries.

Jane Schon reports.


Researchers at QUT have been hard at work developing a super prawn.

They say it grows 25 per cent faster than the average Giant Prawn, and can weigh up to a kilogram.

Researchers say the bigger size, equals better taste.

Professor Peter Mather, QUT Biogeosciences leader: “They’re very white and they lend themselves really well to Asian style cooking.”

The Biogeosciences leader at the University says sixty million people in South-East Asia rely on freshwater animals, as their main source of income and food.

It’s estimated the industry is worth nearly a billion dollars a year.

Three giant freshwater prawns from Vietnam and Thailand were combined in one breeding group, to create the super crustacean.

Professor Peter Mather, QUT Biogeosciences leader: “So it’s a simple approach to selective breeding just as we’d produce varieties of tomato, varieties of cattle the next generation of change in aquaculture is going to be applying genetic selection.”

Three PhD students are currently examining how to further improve the newly developed gene.

They think reproduction might be the key.

Hyungtaek Jung, QUT second year PhD student: “I’m just looking into their genotypes which means actually their genetic materials.”

It’s hope one day the prawns will make it to Aussie shelves.

Professor Peter Mather, QUT Biogeosciences leader: “We think that potentially it would be a really good species for northern Australia and perhaps also a way of providing livelihoods for Aboriginal communities.”

It may be sometime before we see the Super Prawn in Australian stores, but the prawn market in South-East Asia definitely won’t be so shrimpy anymore.

Jane Schon, QUT News.