GIA (Grupo de Investigación en Acuicultura) is a Joint Research Unit of the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria (ULPGC), with a 30 years experience in fish aquaculture RTD, mainly nutrition, pathology, new species and genetics. One of its main achievements has been the clarification of the biological mechanisms involved in the regulation of the functioning of several tissues by means of dietary nutrients, using histological and immune-histological studies. Besides, GIA has developed physical tagging systems and selection schemes in sparid species and microarrays, and molecular markers for genealogies and health studies (microsatellites, TNF, IL11, GR, HSP70, HSP90, Δ5 and Δ6 desaturases).

ULPGC aquaculture infrastructure is located at the Marine Science & Technology Park (PCTM) which includes 3 installations:

– Warm Water Species Selection Unit (WWSSU), with a completely equipped laboratory of Molecular Biology and Quantitative Genetics techniques.

– Marine BioAssays Station (MBS), with three RAS and Fish Pathology, Anatomo-pathology and Microbiology Laboratories.

– Feed Ingredients and Additives Testing Unit (FITU), with labs for nutrition (GLCs, HPLCs and GLCs/HPLC-MS), analysis, feed production, digestibility and wet labs with computer-controlled photoperiod and feeding for either larvae (including automated start feeding), juveniles or broodstock of marine fish species, both commercial or new species for aquaculture.

ULPGC- WWSSU (Warm Water Species Selection Unit)

Infrastructure: ULPGC- WWSSU (Warm Water Species Selection Unit)

Location: Las Palmas, SPAIN

Web site address: www.ecoaqua.eu/en/warm-water-species-selection-unit-wwssu.html

Contact: Rafael Ginés (rafael.gines@ulpg.es)


The facility includes a breeding and a selected family rearing station and offers an infrastructure for genetic experiments like crossbreeding, inbreeding, epigenetic crosses or selection programs for families of, at least, 48 half sibs or 96 full sibs, or more when mass spawning is used. Fish culture is possible from larvae until adults. This installation is complemented with different labs for molecular and quantitative genetics, morphology lab based on image processing for detecting deformities among physical features, and meat and fish quality analysis. It comprises 69 circular tanks of 1000 litres and 12 tanks of 30000 litres of capacity (as average) prepared to obtain spawning from tagged pairs or groups of marine warm water fish broodstocks, by controlled photoperiod and temperature or hormone induction, respectively. Besides, 144 tanks of 500 litres allow larval and juvenile rearing until they are ready to be tagged. These tanks have a capacity to culture of fish from full and half sib families. It also includes a completely equipped laboratory for Molecular Biology and Quantitative Genetics techniques (manual and automatic sequencers, gel documentation systems, 5 color gene expression equipment, quality quantifier of nucleic acids, design and planning of breeding schemes, development of individual identification systems for physical and molecular reconstruction of genealogy, estimation of genetic parameters and evaluation of players, etc..), where we have reported, for the most important species in Mediterranean aquaculture (gilthead seabream), physical and genetic tagging systems for estimates of genetic parameters under industrial conditions. Furthermore, it benefits other research lines in animal breeding of other species with similar biological characteristics (sparids), which are important for the diversification of Mediterranean aquaculture. The facility is included in the Marine Scientific and Technological Park of the ULPGC and has access to other large aquaculture infrastructures and laboratories.

Services currently offered by the infrastructure

This infrastructure provides the possibility to establish a breeding program with its subsequent genetic progress and increased profits, both for commercially well-established species and for new species for aquaculture. Services include genetic advice, construction of genealogies, estimation of genetic parameters and selection of breeders. It also has a self-selection scheme in which users can provide elite breeders or measure the genotype-environment interaction, which is interesting in species such as sea bream produced in very diverse environments. This infrastructure contains control and monitoring of biological, chemical and physical parameters like oxygen, temperature, water flow, feeding or behaviour. Several successful EU and national projects have been conducted of the facility, whereas a new hall will be ready for April 2010. At present, the Unit is the coordinator and National Reference Center for Development of a genetic improvement program in gilthead seabream (PROGENSA from JACUMAR-2008; INNOTECSS from INIA-2014), giving also service to commercial hatcheries.

Modality of access

Users can also have access to individuals from the different lines in order to conduct trials in their own laboratories. Fish are shipped by airplane in cube-containers by GIA researchers which have a wide experience and success in this process. The number of trials per year will depend on the numbers of families demanded and the requests by the different partners.

The access will comprise the use of tanks including maintenance, water supply, daily feeding and husbandry of fish; manipulation, and sampling of fish. Also access to all dry laboratory facilities and other infrastructure, logistical, technical and scientific support to external users is offered on request. Scientific support will include advice on experimental design and methodology, documentation of results for all experiments conducted during the project, and appropriate methods for sampling and conservation of samples.

Unit of access

The unit of access is defined as 1 tank/week, equalling the occupation of 1 tank of 1m3 for 7 days. Occupation of small (500 L) tanks will be assigned a fraction or a multiple, respectively, of the standard tank unit. One project is expected to comprise 45 tanks on average during twelve weeks.


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