To achieve ParaFishControl's objectives, the project tasks are broken down into seven RTD work packages (WP1- WP7), one dissemination and technology transfer WP (WP8) and one management and coordination WP (WP9), all of them strongly interacting with each other. The project is organised into four main types of activity, ranging from generation of fundamental knowledge (WP1 and WP2) and technological applications (WP3, WP4, WP5) to risk analyses and food safety aspects (WP6 and WP7) and dissemination and technology transfer (WP8). All WPs are cross-cutting and integrate all fish host species and their relevant parasites. In this way, poorly characterised parasite systems will benefit from the advances already achieved for other better characterised parasite species.
The ParaFishControl project has a different level of detail and approach for each targeted parasite, depending on the previous knowledge, the most needed solutions, and on-going national and international research projects. Sea lice are a clear example, the project has concentrated efforts in WP1 and WP5 to avoid overlap with extensive other projects. Sea lice is not included in WP2 because a large number of studies have been conducted to establish a link between wild and farmed salmon in Norway and Scotland, and there are on-going surveillance programs to monitor the impact of sea lice on wild salmonids several on-going projects using computer-based modelling tools to predict and understand the dispersal of lice larvae. Sea lice and AGD studies in Scotland, Norway and other countries already address vaccine development and functional feed production. Biological control of sea lice using wrasse and lumpfish is also globally studied.
There are current private (e.g. breeding companies) or publically funded projects (e.g. against sea lice and AGD in Norway, Scotland and globally);
The current farmed fish family genetics structure/resistance data are too limited to allow progress in the context of this proposal; or
There are other EU projects partially addressing this aspect such as FISHBOOST. Deliverables from WP1 and WP3 will, however, substantially contribute to initiatives targeting breeding for parasite resistance.
WP1 (Host-parasite interactions) will advance the scientific knowledge base for WP2 to WP7, will develop and optimise in vivo and in vitro models, decipher the mechanisms by which parasites, hosts and intermediates interact in order to allow development of targeted therapy strategies, and elucidate poorly understood parasite life-cycles. Technologically, WP1 will cover transcriptomics and proteomics.
WP2 (Wild-farmed fish parasite transfer) will investigate reciprocal parasite transfers between wild and farmed fish. The objectives are to assess suspected transfers of key parasites, with respect to hosts and geographical areas, using epidemiological and molecular tools. WP2 will use next generation sequencing bioinformatics tools to identify the most reliable parasite gene markers for differentiation between wild and farmed parasite populations.
WP3 (Prophylactic measures) will develop prophylactic measures for prevention of disease that may be incorporated into an integrated pest management strategy (IPMS) for selected parasites. Antigens will be identified / selected to produce candidate vaccines, to be tested at laboratory scale prior to forwarding to prototype studies. This WP will also identify and test, in vitro and in vivo, novel immuno-stimulant ingredients for the development of novel functional feeds targeting a range of parasites.
WP4 (Diagnostic tools and methods) will provide an essential parasite diagnostics toolbox for key parasitic diseases, required both for basic parasite research and for disease management. Diagnostic tools and markers for species for which reliable tests are not available will be developed and diagnostic tests generated towards field/point-of-care use for parasitic infections which are easily misdiagnosed, and/or for whose lack of specific management or prophylactic tools mandates rapid and quantitative diagnosis. A collection of updated and validated diagnostic protocols for the main parasites will be developed and validated.
WP5 (Innovative treatments) will improve current treatments and develop much-needed novel treatments in compliance with the European legislation for avoidance of parasite resistance, toxicity of chemicals and persistence of chemical residues in fish and environment. Depending on the parasite, in vitro screening/testing of novel treatments will precede in vivo experiments at the laboratory level and subsequently at the field level in farms located in endemic areas. Treatments will include classical treatments (immersion or oral delivery in feed), advanced specific biotechnological treatments (based on “omics” data and immunotherapeutic approaches, physical treatments (ultrasound, electromagnetic fields) and use of biological controls for control of sea lice and I. multifiliis.
WP6 (Risk analysis and parasite surveillance) will identify and evaluate risk factors for parasitic diseases and provide risk management strategies to reduce either their incidence or their negative impacts. WP6 will establish associations between parasites and other pathogens and include identification of baseline parasite levels indicative for initiation of treatment; expert consultations and epidemiological studies to identify risk factors; development of disease management strategies, incorporation of parasite samples and metadata within a BioBank, assessment of diverse mitigation options and identification of future risks. WP6 will provide new IPMS strategies for the major parasite pathogens investigated.
WP7 (Fish product safety) will help to ensure the quality and safety of farmed fish products by establishing presence/absence of fish-borne-zoonotic helminths, and reinforce competitiveness of EU aquaculture by development and implementation of good practices to obtain safe, high-quality products. This WP will include identification of cultured fish products potentially contaminated by helminths that represent a human health hazard, systematic surveys of fish farms for identification of the potential sources/routes of infection and design of farm management strategies to avoid/decrease the occurrence of zoonotic helminths.
WP8 (Dissemination, technology transfer and take-up) will undertake a range of dissemination, knowledge exchange and transfer, and industry technology transfer activities. They will include: design of a public website, publication of scientific articles, organisation of training courses and workshops, publication of manuals and handbooks and organisation of an international conference. WP8 targets a broad range of stakeholders including producers, researchers, biotechnological companies, veterinarians, feed producers and the general public. Prototype concepts/products will be presented to industry to obtain feedback and guidance.
WP9 (Coordination and Management) will ensure that the project progresses according to the work plan and will assure a strong strategic steering, quality control, risk analysis and administrative and financial management to conform to EC rules and the consortium agreement.
To know more about each work package click here.