Development of a method for non-lethal sampling from individual fish to investigate host responses to ectoparasites


This project aims to extend a method developed for the non-lethal collection and analysis of blood and mucus from fish to the study of the infection by the ectopic parasite, Paramoeba perurans.


To develop control strategies for diseases of farmed fish, experimental infection in contained facilities is a common requirement. Traditional experimental fish infection studies are based on the sequential culling of infected animals at different time points. These use large numbers of fish because of the need for cohorts for each time point and the high inter-individual variability. A new method of collecting small blood samples from the same individual fish over the course of infection has previously been funded by the NC3Rs to reduce the number of animals used and is currently being developed to analyse fish responses to viral and bacterial infections. Extending this method to the study of fish infected by the ectopic parasite, Paramoeba perurans, which causes Amoebic Gill Disease, would reduce the numbers of fish required for such research by 80%.

Research details and methods

This project will investigate whether small amounts of mucus from gills can be used to detect localised responses to ectoparasites, and to correlate these with levels of chemokines and cytokines found in underlying tissues collected by lethal sampling for validation purposes. A range of assays will be used to identify key immune responses. The feasibility of monitoring disease progression through the quantification of parasitic load in water, and disease progression in fish through digital analyses of lesions will also be investigated. 

Chance RJ et al. (2018). Effect of repeated exposure to AQUI-S on the viability and growth of Neoparamoeba peruransJournal of Fish Diseases 41(2):291-298. doi: 10.1111/jfd.12712

Chance RJ et al. (2018). Effects of repeated anaesthesia on gill and general health of Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. 93(6):1069-1081. doi: 10.1111/jfb.13803

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PhD Studentship



Principal investigator

Professor Chris Secombes


University of Aberdeen


Dr Catherine Collins
Dr Bertrand Collet

Grant reference number


Award date

Oct 2014 - Sep 2017

Grant amount