The University of Barcelona recognises a non-invasive study that assesses the health of fish populations

The University of Barcelona (UB) has awarded the Antoni Caparrós Prize of the Social Council of the UB and the Bosch i Gimpera Foundation to a pioneering project that uses a non-invasive methodology to determine the health of fish populations in farming conditions and experimental studies, checking the effects of their diets. The award was presented to Dr Antoni Ibarz, a lecturer at the UB’s Faculty of Biology.

The project consists of assessing the welfare and health of fish by using skin mucus bioindicators. This mucus is a protective secretion that fish can regulate and that acts as a physical, chemical and biological barrier between the fish and the environment in which they live.

Different molecules have been detected in the epidermal mucus that serve as indicators of nutritional, physiological and defensive factors, such as levels of protein, glucose, lactate, cortisol and antioxidant power, which provide information on nutritional, metabolic and stress conditions, a very important parameter in animal culture. In addition, by means of microbiological culture techniques in the laboratory, it has been possible to determine the antimicrobial activity against pathogenic bacteria and how this changes depending on the state of the animal.

Epidermal mucus can be obtained in a minimally invasive way, only by sedating the fish, which are not killed and can be returned to the facilities. The research group ‘Non invasive Biomarkers in Fish’ (NIBIFish) led by Dr. Ibarz and Dr. Laura Fernández, in collaboration with the ‘Molecular biology of pathogenic bacteria and antimicrobial strategies’ group led by Dr. Cristina Madrid and Dr. Carlos Balsalobre, have managed to make the extracted biomarkers easy, quick and economical to measure, so that they can be reported within a reasonable timeframe to interested companies.

Companies in the aquaculture feed and production sector have shown great interest in being able to use this approach —which takes animal welfare into account— to carry out studies on the beneficial effects of the diets they are formulating, or to follow up or monitor the condition of their animals.

The project will allow companies to carry out pilot screening studies of different feed additives on a small scale. At the same time, the study could serve to establish reference values for these bio-indicators both in species of productive interest and for use in monitoring protected species or species of special interest for biodiversity.

The jury of the Antoni Caparrós Prize positively valued the fact that the project is related to the primary sector, in which innovation is increasingly essential, and in particular, in the field of food production, in which fish farms play a very important and growing role and also need to improve their sustainability.

The members of the jury also highlighted the impact of the collaboration of Dr. Ibarz’s research group with the business world. Since 2020, they have signed research contracts with five different companies in the aquaculture feed production sector, some of which are among the most important in the world.

Share this post:

Utilitzem cookies de tercers amb finalitats tècniques i analítiques. Si continua navegant vol dir que accepta la nostra política de cookies. Més informació,plugin cookies política de cookies.

Aviso de cookies