Infectious disease provides a major barrier to sustainable aquaculture, and with 598 species used in aquaculture worldwide it is a challenge to keep track of the pathogens. At the Institute of Aquaculture, we maintain a large multi-disciplinary group dedicated to the prevention and control of aquatic infectious diseases addressing the entire aquaculture production spectrum. The overall aim of our research is to improve understanding of major pathogens in aquaculture systems and we do this by integrating expertise across bacteriology, immunology, parasitology, pathology, vaccinology and virology.
Our research investigates environmental factors that promote disease, reservoirs of infection, taxonomic diversity and evolution, modes of disease transmission, routes of infection and infection thresholds. Understanding how pathogens cause disease and interfere with the immune responses of their hosts helps to develop point of care diagnostics, best husbandry measures and preventive vaccines or treatments. The Institute in the late 1980s contributed to the development of the first vaccines for the Atlantic salmon industry, setting the foundations for current cutting edge approaches toward preventative therapy in fish health. The impact of this work has led to significant improvements in fish health and welfare and a much reduced reliance upon antibiotics.
Our activities cover both fundamental and applied research and we work closely with industrial partners spanning a broad range of aquaculture-related activities. Our research has contributed to national and international aquatic animal health and welfare strategies, and much of this is conducted in collaboration with competent authorities in the UK (e.g. MSS and Cefas), Europe (e.g. European Food Safety Authority) and further afield (e.g. OIE).