Pre-emptive and non-invasive pathogen diagnostics to prevent the spread of shellfish disease (RD135)


This project aims to develop simple molecular biology protocols for industry to manage disease spread in oyster aquaculture.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

15 months

Project Summary:

Disease is the single biggest issue facing shellfish aquaculture and restoration. Measures to stop the spread of diseases in the UK rely entirely on the prevention of animal movement from disease positive to disease-free sites. However, these measures are not entirely successful and have seen recurrent failures in recent years, resulting in the gradual spread of pathogens across the UK.

In direct response to requests from shellfish farmers and restoration practitioners, our feasibility project (FS042) developed and tested protocols for pre-emptive pathogen diagnostics, combining a portable qPCR machine and field DNA extraction protocols with our experience detecting pathogens in the water from oyster quarantine tanks.

In this full R&D project, we will take the system from a proven concept through to a validated and fully useable system including user-friendly protocols and video instruction. Additionally, we will test, and if appropriate, validate assays to analyse the presence of two biofouling non-native species that are of key interest to the shellfish industry. This rapid, cheap, and simple process allows farmers and restoration practitioners to make decisions on whether to move animals based on health status, optimise biofouling treatments and sites selection.

For more on this project’s previous work, see here.

STATUS: Ongoing

Project Lead

The Roslin Institute