DTU-AQUA Fish and Shellfish diseases


DTU Aqua has about 325 employees (full-time equivalents). The institute is organized into 10 scientific sections, which carry out the research, educational and advisory activities. DTU Aqua has employees at DTU’s campus in Lyngby and in Silkeborg, Hirtshals and Nykøbing Mors in Jutland as well as on board the research vessel Dana. DTU-AAH in Lyngby is the scientific section devoted for Fish and Shellfish Diseases while DTU-DSC is part of the Coastal Ecology section and located in Nykøbing Mors at the Danish Shellfish Centre. DTU-DSC is devoted to Sustainable Resource Utilization of lower trophic level organisms.

DTU Aqua Fish and Shellfish Diseases

Infrastructure: Laboratory and Fish tank facilities of DTU Aqua Fish and Shellfish Diseases, Denmark (DTU-AAH)

Location: Lyngby, DENMARK

Web site address: www.aqua.dtu.dk

Contact: Tine Iburg (timi@aqua.dtu.dk)


DTU AQUA, Unit for Fish and Shellfish Diseases is located in Lyngby, Copenhagen, Denmark. Beside fully equipped laboratory facilities, it includes, 1. A contained experimental unit capable of conducting infection and challenge trials with all known fish pathogens and bioengineered organisms under both fresh- and salt water conditions, 2. A quarantine unit for purchased fish, vaccination trials and trials with non-infectious reagents, 3. A specialized facility for housing crustaceans and 4. A closed facility for supply of experimental specific pathogen free (SPF) rainbow trout. The facilities can operate at various temperatures and salinities. This guarantees that wellcontrolled laboratory and tank trials can be conducted with a wide range of fish pathogens on most fresh water fish species and some saltwater fish

species. The highly contained facilities enable us to conduct experiments with exotic and highly infectious pathogens. The Unit for Fish and Shellfish Diseases is accredited according to ISO 17025. The service team has in-depth experience in the handling, management and care of fish at all stages. The laboratory is the European Union Reference Laboratory for Fish and Crusteacean Diseases and the OIE Reference Laboratory for VHS and is leading within research and diagnostics on listed viral fish diseases.

The facility comprises approx. 100 experimental tanks of various sizes. Both flow-through and recirculation systems can be made available in the tanks. DTU AAH has a broad experience with bacterial and viral pathogens. In trial protocols for bacterial and viral pathogens, fish are exposed to test agents by intraperitoneal or intramuscular injection, through cohabitation or by bath/immersion.

Standardized infection models for fish rhabdoviruses are available.

Pharmacological assessments are also offered. Some of the major scientific achievements include:

• Determination and kinetics of the humoral response in fish towards viral and bacterial diseases with related studies in immunology.

• The pathogenicity testing of a large number of isolates of VHSV have explained and changed the view of VHS and its epidemiology dramatically.

• Several new putative emerging fish pathogens have been tested for their infectivity, with results contributing to revision of EU legislation.

A significant part of the studies have been conducted by scientists from most of the world during research visits to our facilities. In the FP7 infrastructure project NADIR, and the Horizon project Aquaexcel2020 access were given to research groups from Italy, Spain, Turkey, Ireland and Norway, respectively. Access comprises both tank and laboratory facilities as well as all technical support needed for conducting TNA research projects.

Services currently offered by the infrastructure

DTU AAH offers access to carry out in vivo fish trials with infectious pathogens in various tank types and water qualities (only fish < ½ kg). The access will comprise the use of tanks including maintenance, water supply, daily feeding and husbandry of fish; manipulation, and sampling of fish. On request, access to all dry laboratory facilities and other infrastructural, logistical, technical and scientific support is offered to external TNA users.

Scientific support will include advice on experimental design and methodology, documentation of results for all experiments conducted during the project, and appropriate sampling and conservation of samples.

Fish are feed and inspected minimum 2 times a day. Under infection trials, inspection frequency is increased according to clinical symptoms. Moribund fish are euthanized, sampled, labelled and stored. Included in the unit, is also access to work in lab, e.g. molecular and immunochemical examination of fish tissues, antigen propagation, histopathology etc. The work is conducted under quality assurance conditions (ISO 17025) and under close supervision of technical and scientific personnel at DTU. Expected output/deliverables for users: Feed-back to DTU AAH members as a short presentation of results in seminar form with discussion. The feedback provided from the user should include inputs for improvement for future TNAs. Final agreement to finalize the TNA project will be provided. The agreement will include testing, delivering of samples and presentation of scientific data in form of peer review papers and presentations at national and international meetings.

Modality of access

Access is given to the whole facility and is conducted in a close collaboration with scientists and technical personnel of the facility. Preparation and planning is done in a consortium with other users in order to cross benefit the trials and laboratory activities.

Applicants will be required to provide detailed information about ethical issues (benefits that justify the use of animals, main adverse effects for the animals as well as steps taken to ensure that the amount of suffering to the animals is minimized and definition of humane endpoints for the trial). Hereafter DTU AAH will decide whether the proposed trial is possible to conduct at the facility. If accepted a detailed research protocol and timeframe are developed in collaboration with a contact person at DTU AAH prior to the stay.

On average each user or user group is expected to stay 30 days at the infrastructure. Prior to the actual start of access, all formalities regarding tank set up, pretreatment of fish and decision about pathogens to be used, and which analyses to be used, should be in place, so that these things are in place prior to the arrival of the TNA user, and the trial can start immediately upon arrival.

The stay at DTU AAH will include introduction to the facilities both wet laboratory facilities and laboratories, including information about biosafety measures in the high-containment facilities. Furthermore, IT-facilities and establishment of office facilities will be introduced. There will be a meeting with the veterinarian holding the Animal Experiments License for the trial and meetings with other potential collaborators at the Institute, including scientists, technicians and animal facility staff members. The user will be introduced to/trained in the relevant laboratory work necessary for the trial, e.g. cell culture, virus isolation, virus identification by immunochemical and/or molecular techniques, The trial will be carried out according to the agreed protocols in close collaboration with the contact person at DTU AAH.

Unit of access

One unit of access is equivalent to one day of access to 35 small 10-l tanks or to 10 medium 180-l tanks, to 4 large 1000 l tanks or to ½ day access to laboratory facilities. Preparation, project planning, reporting etc is included in the overall access. One typical access consists of 40 units of access. The availability of relevant fish must be coordinated before the stay takes place. Fish (up to 1000) of a given size and conditions are present in and acclimatized to the tanks. Water supply (fresh, brackish or saltwater) and temperatures will be adjusted according to the agreed plan.

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