ParaFishControl trains the next generation researchers

ParaFishControl is committed to training the next generation of aquaculture pathogen researchers. With this in mind, partners continuously train master’s degree students on the new tools and techniques developed within the project.

Dr Michela Massimo

During the last three years, Michela had the opportunity to develop her doctoral thesis within the Horizon 2020 project ParaFishControl. Her PhD research activities were based on studying the ectoparasite protozoan Amyloodinium ocellatum with a particular attention to deepening the understanding of the mechanisms by which the dinoflagellate interacts with its host and how the host responds to it. For this reason, studies were conducted on the protozoan and on fish (UNIUD group selected the European sea bass as target host) also by monitoring spontaneous outbreak episodes and carrying out experimental infections. Contemporarily, laboratory analyses (i.e. ELISA, immunohistochemistry, histology, respiratory burst, cytotoxicity tests, in vitro motility tests) were performed to better explore the host-parasite relationship and to develop innovative treatments against amyloodiniosis. Furthermore, Michela had the opportunity to spend some months at the Institute of Aquaculture of the University of Stirling (Uos), thanks to the funding provided by the Horizon 2020 project AQUAEXCEL. At the UoS she learned how to perform the fluorescent in situ hybridization technique and to develop fluorescent staining protocols for confocal microscopy evaluations. 

On the 26th of February 2019 she concluded the PhD in Science and Agricultural Biotechnology with the thesis entitled “New perspectives in the control of Amyloodinium ocellatum infection in reared sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)”.

Alberto Edo

Alberto Edo recently received his master’s degree in Aquaculture at the University of Valencia, Spain. He completed his master’s thesis at the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal (IATS) within the framework of the ParaFishControl project.

Supervised by Dr Ariadna Sitjà Bobadilla and Dr Carla Piazzon from the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal and in collaboration with Dr Ivona Mladineo from Institut za Oceanografiju i Ribarstvo, Alberto’s thesis focused on the study of the gene expression of European sea bass parasitized with the hematophagous parasite Ceratothoa oestroides. He used PCR-Array to study the expression of 23 selected genes in tongue, spleen, liver and head kidney of infected and uninfected sea bass. The results showed that inflammation, anaemia and growth markers are being regulated both, locally and systemically, upon C. oestroides infection. This is the first study characterizing the transcriptional response of European sea bass against this parasite and sets the basis for future studies dealing with this disease in aquaculture. Alberto defended his master’s thesis in January 2020 and was awarded the highest qualification. 

 Gabriela González

Gabriela González recently completed her master’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain. Conducted at Eurofins Ingenasa under the supervision of Dr Carmen Galán and Dr Paloma Rueda, Gabriela’s objective was to develop novel immunodiagnostic tools for different viral and parasitic diseases of interest in aquaculture.

One of her focal pathogens was the parasite Enteromyxum leei, addressed within the framework of the ParaFishControl project, in collaboration with Dr Oswaldo Palenzuela’s group at the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal. Gabriela analysed the expression of the ELTG1 protein, one of the putative diagnostic targets selected after the transcriptomic analysis of the parasite E. leei. She performed the expression of the antigen in different heterologous systems, obtaining a good yield, purity and concentration for its use as an immunogen. Derived monoclonal antibodies are now being selected and will be assessed for their use in rapid immunodiagnostic tests. Gabriela will defend her thesis in March 2020.