Assistant Professor Karun Thongprajukaew of Department of Applied Science, Faculty of Science, PSU, was selected New Generation Scientist 2016 by Foundation for the Promotion of Science and Technology under the Patronage of H.M. the King. He received a plaque in his honor from HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on July 27th, 2016 in honor of his work titled “Aquatic Feed Management using Digestive Enzyme Technology” which can be applied to efficiently manage the feeding of aquatic animals such as the near-extinct green turtle. Dr. Thongprajukaew explained that the first direction of the research was extracting enzyme from a live organism to digest food. This method is easy to analyze, lo-cost, and offers high efficiency when food is turned into amorphous, no dangerous chemical sediments, and can digest food in large amount. The second direction focuses on feeding system, food management, and food production that increase growth and allow most optimization of feeding. The research has been experimented with food group such as Oreochromis niloticus, Lates calcarifer, Channa striata, Macrobrachium rosenbergii, in process of studying Sepioteuthis lessoniana; also pet group like Betta splendens, Poecilia reticulate, and in process of studying Carassius auratus.
Knowledge on digestive enzyme increases feeding efficiency for example using ratio of feeding frequency to digestive enzyme activity to identify appropriate feeding frequency that is cost-effective; using starvation technique to clear up digestive tract; and using technique of re-feeding to increase appetite; or compensatory growth following starvation and re-feeding. In a large-size ecological system, the type of digestive enzyme indicates diversity of food or prey. In addition to economical aquatic animals, there is also a study of digestive enzyme in animal waste to improve food management and nursery of the near-extinct green turtle from the process of hatching to head-start.
A joint research conducted with Research and Development of Marine Resources and the Andaman Coast has developed feeding system and food management to allow more than 95% of starvation. Research is being expanded to conserve and restore other types of sea turtles.
Dr. Karun Thongprajukaew informed that enzyme in animal waste can test the change of physiology, biochemistry, and ecology of the animals. These enzymes reside in digestive tract and the waste, some of which has film protection to ease the bowel movement and prevent dispersion of enzyme in water. The clear benefit of this approach is no disturbance or harm to the animals hence appropriate for animals that are near-extinction.
Dr. Karun also expanded the research to other economical animals like Bombyx mori through collaboration with Faculty of Science, Kasetsart University. Moreover, the research has received collaboration from Faculty of Veterinary, Rajamangala University of Technology Srivijaya, to experiment on goats. Future direction includes integration of research knowledge to improve food management of all animal groups “from feedstuff to fork”.