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Detection and control of parasitic infections in farmed fish

Published 2017-10-27

This is a joint project with Uppsala University, where prof Staffan Svärd is the principal applicant.

Infections are well-known problems in fish farming, involving viruses, bacteria and parasites. Spironucleus salmonicida is a parasitic microbe known to cause severe systemic infections, spironucleosis, in farmed salmonids. Treatment is currently not possible, making studies of diagnostic, drug and vaccine targets important.

We will start with a detailed characterization of host and parasite responses during S. salmonicida infection in live salmonids, using experimental infections. This will be complemented by studies of gene expression changes in host cells and parasites during early stages of S. salmonicida infection of cultured salmon cells in vitro. The combination of in vivo and in vitro studies will reveal important host (immune responses) and parasite factors(virulence factors) during infections. This can be used to identify the transmissions routes and potential drug, vaccine and diagnostic targets. We will also identify and characterize Diplomonad parasites infecting wild fish, which will be important for differential diagnostic methods and to show the importance of spironucleosis in the wild.

The project will generate tools to follow and control spironucleosis in wild and farmed fish. This will be important for development of aquaculture in Sweden and in the rest of the world. It will also generate unique insights into key components of the fish immune system and we will create an interdisciplinary platform for further studies of fish infections in Sweden.