The Fish Health Research Group has broad expertise for a number of pathogenic microorganisms and their interactions with the hosts.

Focus areas include pathogenesis, characterization of infection routes, transmission and spreading mechanisms, prevalence, immunity and susceptibility with special emphasis on the infectious interactions at the mucosal surfaces of skin, gills and gastro-intestinal tract. Characterizing and understanding infection mechanisms, virulence factors, immunological and physiological responses on the cellular level is an important part of our research activity.

Aquatic host-pathogen-interactions_JWN (002).jpg
Coloured scanning electron micrograph (SEM) of aquatic parasites (Gyrodactylus salaris). G. salaris is a small monogenean ectoparasite (about 0.5 mm long) which lives mainly on the skin and fins of freshwater fish, especially Atlantic salmon. Gyrodactylids are the only parasitic worms that reproduce in situ on their host. The parasites give birth to live young nearly as big as themselves. In the meantime a further generation is already growing inside the neonates. Large numbers of parasites therefore build up very rapidly. Newborn parasites attach to their host alongside their mothers using an attachment organ, the opisthaptor. They feed on mucus and epithelial cells, and can move freely on the host. Magnification: x220 when printed at 10cm wide.

Pathogens with special focus in our research projects include

  • Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) for causing heart and skeletal muscle inflammation (HSMB)
  • Salmonid alfa virus (SAV) causing Pancras Disease (PD)
  • Infectious Salmon Amenia virus (ISAV) or HPR-deleted, and the low-virulent variant HPR0
  • Piscint myocarditis virus (PMCV) causing cardiomyopathy syndrome (CMS)
  • Yersinia rucceri, a bacterium that causes yersiniosis
  • Aeromonas salmonicida, a bacterium that causes furunculosis
  • Moritella viscosa, a bacterium associated with winter ulcers in salmon and rainbow trout
  • Atlantic salmon sea lice (Lepeophthheirus salmonis)
  • Salmon parasitic Gyrodactylus salaris
  • The intracellular fish parasite Nucleospora cysteri
  • The causative agent of amoeba gill disease (AGD), Paramoeba perurans
  • The crayfish plague pathogen Aphanomyces astaci

We focus on aquatic host species that are important in aquaculture and/or nature

  • Wild and farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
  • Wild and farmed rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss)
  • Wild and farmed cleaner fish
  • Native, red-listed noble crayfish (Astacus astacus)
  • Alien, blacklisted North American signal crayfish (Pacifastacus leniusculus).