Evaluation of safety and efficacy of commensal probiotics, L. salivarius MMP strain and L. senioris Accacia strain for maintaining dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) health
Award last edited on: 4/29/2019

Sponsored Program
Awarding Agency
DOD : Navy
Total Award Amount
Award Phase
Solicitation Topic Code
Principal Investigator
Chitra Wendakoon

Company Information

Accacia International LLC

2113 Wells Branch Parkway Suite 6900
Austin, TX 78728
   (512) 784-8204

Research Institution

Texas A&M University

Phase I

Contract Number: N00014-13-P-1182
Start Date: 7/1/2013    Completed: 4/30/2014
Phase I year
Phase I Amount
Marine mammals like bottlenose dolphins are maintained by US Navy's Marine Mammal Program to protect harbors and detect underwater mines. The maintenance and betterment of health of these dolphins in captivity is a priority in order to improve the fitness and readiness of these animals for defense missions. Accacia International proposes to develop probiotic pharmaceuticals to treat and prevent gastrointestinal diseases in dolphins. Preliminary results related to the indigenous commensal microbes, including potential probiotic strains obtained from our University research partner has enabled Accacia to get a headstart on the project. We will isolate candidate probiotic bacteria from the indigenous commensal bacteria present in dolphin fecal and oral samples and determine their antimicrobial activity against gastrointestinal (GI) pathogens. The immunomodulatory effects of the selected probiotic strain on cytokines like TNF and TGF- will also be evaluated. The selected probiotics will be microencapsulated and freeze-dried to facilitate dosage and delivery. The viability of the microencapsulated probiotic bacteria during delivery and after release in simulated digestive tract conditions will be tested to ensure efficacy of the probiotic. In addition to US Navy, marine theme parks employing dolphins for recreational purposes will also benefit from the superior-quality probiotics developed by Accacia International.

Accacia International proposes to develop probiotics, a viable microbial dietary supplement that can beneficially affect the host dolphins through its effect on the intestinal tract. A multidisciplinary research team comprising of experts in food microbiology, animal gastroenterology and food microencapsulation will collaborate effectively to develop a probiotic product that can enhance the health of dolphins in captivity. The superior-quality probiotic product can be used for betterment of health of all the marine mammals maintained by US Navy as well as the various marine aquaria and dolphinaria worldwide. Our product will address the negative effects of an unbalanced gastrointestinal microbiome or inflammatory disease and inhibit potential pathogens like Helicobacter spp, Campylobacter spp, enterohemorrhagic E. coli, enterotoxigenic E. coli and Salmonella spp. Even though the initial phase of the project will develop probiotics for marine mammals like sea lion, seal, walrus and dolphins, the same technology can be extended to veterinary sector to include cattle, sheep, swine, turkey, dogs, cats and goats. The probiotics developed for marine mammals can be modified to cater to the requirements of aquaculture sector as well.

Bottlenose Dolphins, Bottlenose Dolphins, Pathogen, Gastrointestinal (GI) tract, antimicrobial, Immunomodulatory, Probiotics, microencapsulation, identification, Cytokine, Commensal

Phase II

Contract Number: N68335-16-C-0089
Start Date: 1/15/2016    Completed: 11/15/2018
Phase II year
Phase II Amount
The proposed Phase II project intends to conduct a clinical study to evaluate the safety and efficacy of probiotics from dolphins, and to develop and commercialize a microencapsulated probiotic product to improve gastrointestinal health of dolphins. Preliminary research conducted by the US Navy Marine Mammal program (MMP) and Accacia International has identified some lactobacilli strains with probiotic properties from commensal gut microbiotia of dolphins. In Phase II, a safety evaluation of the candidate probiotics will be carried out by in silico analysis; sequence analysis for pathogenicity islands, genes involved in probiosis etc, followed by in vitro experiments such as antibiotic resistance, and assessment of metabolic products. A detailed in vivo study on the safety and efficacy of the candidate probiotic(s) using bottlenose dolphins is planned in collaboration with MMP during Phase II. Accacia intends to develop a novel commercial product for dolphins, which are being raised in captivity in dolphinaria and marine mammal parks. Accacias goal is to develop a microencapsulated probiotic product in combination with prebiotics to improve the indigenous microflora of dolphins, and use it as a natural alternative to antibiotics for treatment of gastrointestinal diseases. This would be the first commercial probiotic product ever developed for dolphins.

Administration of probiotic supplements to dolphins, which are being raised in captivity in dolphinaria and marine mammal parks, will be helpful in maintaining overall health and stimulating immunity of dolphins. Due to a variety of potential causes of gastrointestinal diseases in dolphins and difficulty in definitive diagnosis, probiotics would provide a broad-spectrum protection against diseases. Probiotic therapy would render dolphins protection against gastrointestinal diseases caused by bacterial pathogens. With the production of antibacterial compounds, probiotics can eliminate harmful bacteria and restore the balance of microflora in the gastrointestinal tract. Accacia anticipates and looks forward to implementing a successful commercialization path that benefits not only the military but also other commercial markets as well.

Probiotics, Dolphins, Pathogens, Gastrointestinal, Lactobacilli, Immunomodulatory, antibacterial