A DNA based tool for tackling operational and environmental challenges in aquaculture

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By Milthon Lujan

Stavanger, Norway.- The project  combines  eDNA-based assays, which are related to specific species,  and the  Environmental Sampling processor (ESP), to provide a new generation instrument for detection of diseases and parasites which are causing substantial challenges for the  aquaculture industry.

The aquaculture industry is facing several environmental challenges, including disease, salmon lice invasions and escape of farmed fish. Meeting these challenges require novel approaches and innovative tools. In ISMOTOOL, these challenges will be addressed by combining state-of-the art environmental genomic techniques, genosensors,  and the ESP (Environmental Sampling Processor) for real-time monitoring.

The ESP is a molecular-based autonomous monitoring device designed to collect water samples and identify/quantify  specific DNA in the  samples.    In ISMOTool, this approach will be applied to operational monitoring and fish welfare  in aquaculture.

Specific DNA-based assays and protocols will be developed in the laboratory, adapting  the ESP to recognize (1) fish pathogens (amoebic gill disease AGD) and parasites (salmon lice) in the water column, and – (2) escaped farmed fish (eDNA of Atlantic salmon and rainbow trout), issues which are all   challenging for the aquaculture industry. Experimental work will then move to the field, to test the operation of the device on site.
ISMOTool stands for “In-situ molecular-based monitoring: a tool for tackling the operational and environmental challenges of aquaculture. The project is anchored in ESP technology and is exploring eDNA development for monitoring and sustainable aquaculture management”.

The project is  is building on experience gained in previous Petromaks projects, funded by  the  Research Council of Norway and lead by IRIS:

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“MOAB” Molecular-based technical adaptation using oil-degrading bacteria for autonomous leakage detection  ( 2012-2016); 

“GENOMAPE – Implementing gene-based assays on a robotized genosensor for environmental surveillance in offshore marine operations”.  (2016-2018) .

The experience from these projects will be invaluable and provide a nice way to restructure and transfer competence from one industry to the other.
IRIS is leading the project. NVI (Norwegian veterinary institute) and DTU-Aqua (Denmark) are partners
Project leader in IRIS:
Dr Thierry  Baussant      

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