The development of clinical diets for farmed fish gill diseases

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: College of Life Sci and Med Graduate Sch

Abstract

This project aims to develop clinical diets for use in aquaculture, with a specific focus on alleviating the symptoms of gill diseases, such as amoebic gill disease (AGD). The work falls within the BBSRC strategic priorities of animal health/agriculture and food security, welfare of managed animals and science excellence. Specifically, this research aims to optimise an intervention strategy to combat an endemic infectious disease that currently reduces the health and welfare of farmed Atlantic salmon in the UK.
AGD, caused by the parasitic protist Neoparamoeba perurans, is an emerging disease of salmon. The disease was reported in Tasmania in the 1980's and has now spread to other major salmon farming countries such as Chile, Norway and the UK. AGD can severely damage fish gills, resulting in poor growth and mortalities. AGD-infected fish are often susceptible to secondary infections of bacteria, viruses and sea lice. With salmon the largest food export for Scotland, with an estimated retail value of >1billion pounds sterling worldwide, this research strives to help maintain a supply of healthy fish for the table.
The proposed research builds upon previous collaborations on fish nutrition and immunity between the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre (SFIRC) and EWOS Innovation, including previous joint PhD student supervision. SFIRC is a world renowned centre for studies into fish immunology and EWOS a leader in the fish feed industry. Both partners benefit from the collaboration: SFIRC by access to novel diet formulations and access to experimental facilities and field trials run by EWOS, EWOS by access to cutting edge research into fish immunology with direct relevance to the pathology associated with AGD. The partners have the necessary expertise/facilities to achieve the project goals, and the supervisors have an excellent track record of successful PhD student supervision.
A two pronged approach to clinical diet assessment and optimisation for use with AGD will be adopted. In the first existing diets used to reduce the pathology of chronic viral diseases will be tested to assess impact on AGD-induced pathology and the host immune response elicited post-treatment and post-exposure to the disease at farm sites. In the second assessment of anti-protozoal defences will be carried out, and these results fed back into diet development to target such responses. Any promising new diet formulations will be field tested, with access to farm trials arranged by EWOS. Research training will be given to the student throughout the programme. At Aberdeen the student will be exposed to an academic environment typical of a research University, where cutting edge research is undertaken in a wide range of biological disciplines, and where multidisciplinary/ cross-disciplinary research is commonplace. In yr 1 induction to topics such as research ethics & governance, safety, risk assessment, record keeping will be given and immediate training needs assessed. In house training will be given for methods and use of equipment, with sign off once appropriate standards are met. In later years training for transferable and employability skills will be given with courses on report writing, oral presentation, project management, maximizing impact, interpersonal skills and being assertive, and interviewing skills. The student will visit the EWOS premises each year, to gain an understanding of the fish diet business and trial protocol preparations. A 3 month placement in yr 2 is planned, to help with setting up and sampling of the trials, with the potential for a further placement in yr 3. At EWOS the student will be integrated into an existing project-based management structure and will be an integral member of a defined project team, giving immediate access to other scientists specialised in statistics, trials design, nutrition, and veterinary science. This will facilitate training, skills development and effective knowledge transfer.

Publications

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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/M015440/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019
1658348 Studentship BB/M015440/1 01/10/2015 30/09/2019 Anna Jane Harte
 
Description Cargill 
Organisation Cargill
Country United States 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution I am performing the molecular analyses for three separate diet trials, investigating the effect of immunomodulatory compounds and infectious amoeba on host immune responses.
Collaborator Contribution They have paid for and run the three trials my data has been collected from, including fish, tanks, staff and travel.
Impact Detailed analysis of the immune response of Salmo salar to Amoebic gill disease, resulting in greater understanding of the impact of a functional feed.
Start Year 2016
 
Description 3 Minute Thesis competition 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A presentation competition involving describing my PhD research in three minutes to a room of around 80 people, predominantly over 60s general public.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://www.abdn.ac.uk/pgrs/about/anna-harte-277.php
 
Description Explorathon 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A small group of members from the Fish Immunology group set up a stand in Satrosphere (2016) and the Bon Accord shopping centre (2017) in order to explain what the Fish Immunology research group does at Aberdeen university. I spoke to a number of members of the public about what my research entails.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016,2017
URL http://www.explorathon.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Aberdeen-flyer-2017_-print_croppedweb.pdf
 
Description Poster Belfast EAFP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Poster presentation at EAFP meeting, Belfast. Discussed my results with a professor from Tasmania who expressed interest in future publications, and I remain in email contact with her at present.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Presentation at the Annual MASTS meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact A formal presentation of the main part of my PhD to academic and industry leaders in the field of Marine Science.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Wageningen workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Attendance and poster presentation at Fish immunology workshop, hosted by Wageningen University in 2016.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016