Aquatic animal health

Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center

The Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center, led by professors Sorgeloos and Bossier, has been involved in research on larviculture of fish and shellfish species of aquaculture interest. Initially, most research focused on the brine shrimp Artemia, as a food source for fish and shellfish larvae and in particular on culturing, natural occurrence, production techniques, strain characterisation, and nutritional value. Subsequently, research activities shifted also towards the production and nutritional manipulation of microalgae and rotifers with a main emphasis on lipids and vitamins C and E. Currently, more thorough research on the zootechnical, microbiological and immunological aspects of larviculture is performed.

Department Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry diseases

The Department Pathology, Bacteriology and Poultry diseases, led by professors Haesebrouck, Hermans, and Chiers, studies, among others, the effects of electrical fishing on vertebrate and invertebrate species, to determine if pulse fishing can provide an ecological alternative for trawling. This is done in collaboration with the Research Group Morphology. They furthermore perform autopsies on marine organisms (fish) when increased mortality occurs. By doing so, they aim to diagnose to develop a more efficient treatment or control strategy against a specific disease. 

Department of Virology, Parasitology, and Immunology

The Department of Virology, Parasitology, and Immunology is led by professors Nauwynck, Vercruysse and Cox. The Laboratory of Virology studies, amongst others and in collaboration with the Artemia Reference Center, the virus-host interactions between the white spot syndrome virus and shrimps. Their goal is to find solutions for controlling the disease causing massive mortality in shrimps all over the world. The Laboratory of Immunology studies amongst others the active and passive immunity in dolphins to develop a vaccination against Erysipelothrix rhusiopathiae.   

Research Group Morphology

The Research Group Morphology, led by professors Decostere and Van Den Broeck, studies the morphology of vertebrates, including fish, shellfish and marine mammals. Specific research topics include the influence of microorganisms or substances on gill tissue, because gill diseases are a production-limiting factor in aquaculture, and determining if pulse fishing can provide an ecological alternative for trawling. In cooperation with the Artemia Reference Center, the influence of microorganisms with probiotic effects on the development and morphology of the gastrointestinal system of marine larvae is studied.

Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates

The Research Group Evolutionary Morphology of Vertebrates, led by professor Adriaens, studies the evolutionary morphology of (marine) vertebrates. Marine research topics include the reproduction of the European eel (self-sustaining aquaculture) and phenotypical variation in cranial morphology, the evolution of the feeding system of seahorses and study of its skeleton with possible industrial applications, and application of geometric morphometrics in the early detection of opercular deformities in the intensively reared gilthead sea bream.