Welcome to the Medical and MolecularW Physiology Graduate ProgramW
at the

Cooperating Graduate Faculty:  Cross-Appointed from Other Departments
Research Description


Harry Ako
Professor and Chair, Department of Molecular Biosciences and Bioengineering

Phone:  (808) 956-2012
Fax:  (808) 956-3542 Email:  hako@hawaii.edu 1955 East-West Road, Agriculture Science 218 Office:  St. John 511, Manoa Campus

Ph.D. Biochemistry, Washington State University 1973
A.B. Biochemistry, University of California at Berkeley 1967

Biochemistry and Biotechnology

Aquaculture, Environmental Biochemistry and Biotechnology

The research in our lab focuses around finding solutions for the growing aquaculture and agriculture industries in our islands.  We work extensively with the people in these fields to help them develop methods to facilitate work and avert problems and to also assist in finding new and viable products.

In recent studies undertaken by our lab, we were asked to find ways to enhance and fix color in fresh water, ornamental fish.  We were able to achieve this by developing a diet rich in beta carotene and other nutrients.  Such information is a valuable tool in an industry where a fish can sell for thousands of dollars depending upon its color and markings.

In the area of aquaculture, we have also helped aquaculture farmers find ways to raise mo'i for sale to restaurants and markets.  Mo'i, a fish that was once eaten only by Hawaiian royalty had never been raised in aquaculture environment because of difficulties sustaining the fish in an artificial environment throughout an entire life cycle.  The answer again was in developing a food source comparable to that which was found in their natural environment that could be easily produced.

Surprisingly, not all of our solutions are found in the laboratory.  When we were presented with a problem of eradicating apple snails plaguing Maui taro farms, we returned with three 'unscientific', but practical solutions.  The first solution was to get ducks to eat the snails.  The second was to change farming practices so that the taro was raised in mud instead of water.  The third idea was to harvest the snails and get people to eat them as escargot, which also created the possibility of a viable new product.

Another area of interest that my research involves is the study of fatty acids.  In our lab, we were able to develop make-up lines using kukui and macadamia nut bases.  These products have developed into a multi-million dollar business in Japan and will possibly increase in popularity in the U.S. as well as the benefits of the products become more well-known.  We also helped to develop cooking oil from macadamia nuts which we found to be an even healthier alternative to olive oil.  This study was backed up by Harvard School of Nutrition and was featured in Jean Carper's column on nutrition in USA Weekend.

Selected Publications

1.  Ako, H., Okuda, D. and Gray, D. 1995. Healthful new oil from macadamia nuts. Nutrition 11:286-288.

2.  Ako, H. and Shimeld, L. 1996. Study guide to accompany Biochemistry by Mathews and van Holde. 2nd edition. California: Benjamin Cummings. 420 pages. [textbook]

3.  Tamaru, C.S., Carlstrom-Trick, C., FitzGerald Jr., W.J. and Ako, H. 1996. Induced final maturation and spawning of the marbled grouper Epinephelus microdoncaptured from spawning aggregations in the Republic of Palau, Micronesia. Journal of World Aquaculture Society 27:363-372.

4.  Tamaru, C.S., Ako, H. and Paguirigan, R. 1997. Essential fatty acid profiles of maturation feeds used in freshwater ornamental fish culture. Hydrobiologia 358:265-268.

5.  Lim, C., Ako, H., Brown, C.L. and Hahn, K. 1997. Growth response and fatty acid composition of juvenile Penaeus vannamei fed different sources of dietary lipid. Aquaculture 151:143-153.

6.  Qin, J.G., Fast, A.W. and Ako, H. 1998. Growth performance of diploid and triploid Chinese catfish Clarias fuscus. Aquaculture 166:247-258.

7.  Tamaru, C.S., Ako, H., Sato, V. and Alexander, S. 1998. Rotifer update. International Aquafeed 4:17-20.

8.  Ako, H. and Tamaru, C.S. 1999. Are feeds for food fish practical for aquarium fish? International Aquafeed 2:30-36.

9.  Fukumoto, G.K., Kim, Y.S., Kim, K.H. and Ako, H. 1999. Carcass and meat quality characteristics of forage-based beef. In: Whitacre, J.R., Haard, N.F., Shoemaker, C.F. and Singh, R.P., editors. Food for Health in the Pacific Rim. Connecticut: Food and Nutrition Press, Inc. p. 12-21.

10.  Tamaru, C.S. and Ako, H. 2000. Using commercial feeds for the culture of freshwater ornamental fishes in Hawaii. In: Tamaru, C.C.-T., Tamaru, C.S., McVey, J.P. and Ikuta, K., editors. Spawning and Maturation of Aquatic Species, UJNR Technical Report No. 28. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. p. 109-120.

11.  Ako, H., Tamaru, C.S., Asano, L., Yuen, B. and Yamamoto, M. 2000. Achieving natural coloration in fish under culture. In: Tamaru, C.C.-T., Tamaru, C.S., McVey, J.P. and Ikuta, K., editors. Spawning and Maturation of Aquatic Species, UJNR Technical Report No. 28. Hawaii: University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program. p. 1-4.

12.  Chan, H.T. Jr., Ako, H., Niino-Duponte, R.Y., Carpenter, J.R. and Jang, E.B. 2000. Composition of Mediterranean fruit fly third instar larvae (Diptera:Tephrititdae) and diet: Nutrient balance studies on amino acids, minerals, and nutrient composition in fresh and spent mass rearing diets. In: Tan, K.H., editor. Area-Wide Control of Fruit Flies and Other Insect Pests. Pulau Pinang, Malaysia: International Atomic Energy Agency. p. 567-576.