Project website : IMAQUANIM website
Partners of the project :
Links to the .ppt from Faro meeting:
Project summary :
Fishing for new solutions for improved health in the aquaculture sector
The use of antibiotics, drugs, and chemical disinfectants in the fish-farming industry can leave residues in food products and the environment. These can have harmful health effects on humans. In particular, released antibiotics can promote human disease causing agents to acquire resistance to antimicrobial drugs. More efficient vaccines, better diagnosis of diseases that affect fish, and improved sanitary controls have helped to reduce significantly antibiotic use in aquaculture, particularly for Atlantic salmon. This has led to better acceptance of fish farming among Europeans, boosting growth in this industry. However, use of antibiotics continues. In order to curtail this practice, IMAQUANIM has brought together 17 universities and governmental research institutes, as well as five small and medium size enterprises (SMEs) working to develop technology to improve the disease immunity of Europe's major aquacultured species.
Overcoming immunity knowledge gaps
The immune system is not as well understood for finfish and shellfish as it is for mammals and other higher vertebrates. Successful bacterial vaccines were developed for salmon based mostly on trial and error. However, despite years of research, just a few vaccines have recently emerged against fish viruses, while none currently exist against fish parasites. One of IMAQUANIM’s priorities is to improve basic knowledge of how fish acquire immunity to diseases. The research team will develop tools, such as gene arrays and antibodies , as well as assays for monitoring immune-relevant molecules and cell populations. The team will use these tools to characterise fish immune systems, to determine how efficient protection against disease can be induced by vaccination, and to identify immuno-competent individuals for selective breeding. For finfish, the work will include trials with commercial and experimental vaccines. Infection trials with each major finfish and shellfish species with selected viral, bacterial or parasitic pathogens known to cause severe problems for European aquaculture will also be included. Scientists already know that invertebrates, such as shellfish, lack adaptive mechanisms and, thus, cannot be vaccinated in the sense of activating a memory based immunity. Nevertheless, although shellfish immunity is strictly based on innate mechanisms, recent findings indicate that it can be bolstered by ‘priming’ these mechanisms. Since, at low temperatures, this is also true for finfish, IMAQUANIM will employ an integrated approach in its research to maximise the data’s scientific and commercial potential.
Healthier fish for healthier humans
IMAQUANIM'S data will provide a strong technological basis for qualified strategies to counteract rapidly known or new diseases in aquacultured fish. The resulting gene arrays and immune-response assays will be employed to develop efficient vaccines and feed-based immunostimulants for finfish species. They will also be used for genetic typing, immunocompetence monitoring and diagnostic surveillance for both finfish and shellfish. The project results will create a basis for the breeding of aquacultured animals that are immune to devastating infectious diseases. By contributing to improved animal health, IMAQUANIM will lead to higher quality food products, free of residuals of antibiotics or other chemicals, and to more environmentally friendly and cost-efficient fish farming. This will have a positive influence on consumer perceptions of aquaculture and encourage people to include more fish and shellfish in their diets.
List of genomic tools generated in the project :
Publications generated in the project :