Forsøksdyr: Cultivation and monitoring of salmon lice for research

Godkjenningsdato 30.11.2020

Godkjenningsperiode 30.11.2020-30.11.2024

1. Purpose
Anthropogenic Parasite Evolution (ParAnthropE) is a project funded by NFR (FRIPRO) for a period of four years. The goal is to understand and predict farming-induced evolution in parasites and pathogens.
We address this in salmon lice, both because of their economic relevance and because they represent a unique model for parasites in general. Salmon lice themselves are not subjected to animal welfare regulations, but they are obligate parasites. Therefore fish are required as hosts to maintain and study them.

2. Distress
This research involves a limited number of standard operations on host fish, inducing temporary, mild stress at most: 1) Infecting fish with copepodids. 2) Anesthetizing fish for collection/counting lice. 3) Adding preadult or adult lice on to anesthetized fish. 4) Tagging fish. 5) Maintaining fish in individual tanks.

3. Expected benefits
By monitoring the demography of individually-marked salmon lice in lab populations, this research will quantify key parameters to predict evolutionary responses of these parasites. The main expected benefit is increased sustainability for aquaculture, as well as advances in basic knowledge. By informing on those aspects that are key in driving parasite evolution on farms, we will provide guidelines on which changes should be prioritised to prevent further escalation in the frequency and severity of epidemics.

4. Number of animals
The maximal number of fish used will remain under 400 individuals per year over a four-year period. We therefore apply to use a maximal total number of 1600 salmon (Salmo salar purchased from in-house producer ILAB).

5. Adherence to 3R
From the start this project was designed according to 3R. The very nature of this research is to explore fundamental questions in a parasite relevant to farming-induced evolution. Replacement of the host species is therefore, and unfortunately, not an option here. However we perform Refinement by addressing these questions in salmon lice instead of more severe pathogens also found on salmon farms. Salmon lice are ectoparasites that browse on the surface of their host without making them sick. Finally, we will Reduce by combining multiple sub-goals in the project into one big experiment, and limiting the number of replicate tanks as much as possible, while keeping high scientific standards.