Feasibility study on the development of salmon specific, immunology assays for automated analysis (FS158)


This project aims to differentiate specific pathogens based on the reaction of a suite of immunology biomarkers, increasing availability of immunology biomarkers for fish health and diagnostic screening purposes.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

5 Months

Project Outcome:

Atlantic salmon production dominates Scottish aquaculture, with Scotland being the third-largest producer of Atlantic salmon after Norway and Chile. In 2021, 188,000 tonnes of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) were harvested in Scotland, representing an increase of 17% on the previous year’s production with an export value of £614 million (Scottish Salmon, 2021).

Salmon in aquaculture can be affected by a range of viral and bacterial pathogens, the most important causing Pancreas Disease (PD), Heart and Skeletal Muscle Inflammation (HSMI), Cardiomyopathy Syndrome (CMS) and Gill Diseases (AGD, CGD). Currently, diagnosis of these health challenges is based on clinical signs examined using the lethal techniques histopathology and qPCR.

In this SIF feasibility project, the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) the University of Aberdeen, WellFish Diagnostics Ltd, Vertebrate Antibodies Ltd and Bakkafrost Scotland have collaborated on the development of non-lethal, blood based immunological methods to identify early-stage infection. As with any disease in any species, early detection and intervention leads to less mortality. In this study, we identified proteins present in the serum of infected fish (CMS, PD, HSMI and AGD), measured using serological testing. Immunoassays were developed and tested on field and experimentally challenged Atlantic salmon. This study identified several immunology biomarkers including acute phase proteins and muscle biomarkers to assess Atlantic salmon health using serum samples. It is intended to develop and validate fish specific assays for these biomarkers to enable their use on high-throughput medical instruments to be used for screening tests for the aquaculture industry.

STATUS: Completed

Project Lead

University of the West of Scotland