A major new study has just been launched which could help protect salmon and other farmed fish against a range of potentially deadly viral and bacterial diseases.
The work is part of a multi million euro European project with 14 collaborating partners from nine different countries, to boost and ensure improved health and production of fish in aquaculture.
The study is called LIFECYCLE and the University of Aberdeen has received £344,000 for their research which will centre on farmed Atlantic salmon.
Professor Chris Secombes and Dr Sam Martin are heading the Aberdeen efforts.
Dr Martin, a Lecturer in Fish Physiology within the Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences, said: "The aquaculture industry is highly competitive and fundamental biological knowledge is required to improve the quality and sustainability of the industry.
"We will be looking at the hatching stage when the fish are vulnerable to disease. What we want to work out is exactly when the immune system develops as this is completely unknown."
Professor Secombes, Head of the School of Biological Sciences, added: "Understanding the key stages of fish and their immune systems is absolutely essential for the aquaculture industry – a global and highly competitive sector.
"This may lead to improved vaccine development and performance, with major benefits for the industry."
Scientists in the different countries will spend four years examining the key life cycle stages of Atlantic salmon and European farmed fish.
For more information see: www.lifecycle-fp7.eu/
The Aberdeen work will be conducted at the Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre within the University's Zoology Building – a centre recognised for its excellence in this area of research.