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.
The MBS is located in the Marine Scientific and Technological Park of the ULPGC and the ULPGC itself and comprises three main RAS units completely equipped to separately challenge with up to three different pathogens at the same time in all phases of fish life cycle including broodstock, larvae and juveniles of marine fish species. Each of them is provided with automatic and programmable control of flow, oxygen concentration, temperature, salinity and feeders and is designed to content up to 48 circular tanks of 500 litres. Therefore, 6 treatments in triplicates can be run at the same time in each RAS unit, but up to 48 tanks can be used if all units are included in the same experiment. The design of the recirculatory units is versatile, which allows a great amount of testing conditions and assays in vivo with any pathogen. It also has a support laboratory in situ, as well as access to the Fish Pathology Laboratory of the Institute of Sustainable Aquaculture and Marine Ecosystems (EOCAQUA) and the Microbiology Laboratory, both at the ULPGC, with microbiology and anatomo-pathology techniques ready for all fish and mollusc tissues (including anterior kidney, brain, muscle and bone, among others). These characteristics make the MBS the most versatile and controlled research station in Europe to challenge marine fish with virus, bacteria or parasites, at the same time. This kind of studies have been conducted by GIA and the Fish Pathology Lab for the last 15 years, fish health and welfare being a main research line of this group. The MBS is a reference centre for disease prevention in the Canary Islands and adjacent African countries.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
In marine fish, facilities to provide pathogen-free animals with which to develop large-scale experiments are scarce. In this sense, the MBS supplies pathogen-free animals, which are highly demanded by experimental and industrial laboratories, offering services on pathogen challenge for researchers, feed producers and pharmaceutical companies, developing vaccines, immune stimulants and therapeutic products. The service includes standardised models for several pathogens and infection by intramuscular or intra peritoneal injection, cohabitation, immersion and rectum canulation as well as the development of combined experiments in nutrition and disease. All experiments are supported by biochemical, enzymatic histological and microbiological analysis.
Modality of access
One project is expected to comprise 18 tanks on average during eight weeks. Users are given access to this infrastructure for an average of 8 weeks for in vivo infection experiments. The number of trials per year will depend on the numbers of treatments demanded and the requests by the different partners.
The access will comprise the use of marine fish of both, commercially important and new species for Aquaculture, different types of pathogens, tank 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 one standard tank for seven days.