Shellfish Food Safety and Animal Health – a unified strategy for detecting multiple biological threats on a single platform (RD011)


This project aims to develop a “one health” molecular toolbox using innovative technology for multiple targets and matrices. By harnessing the potential of nanopore sequencing, we aim to develop assays to assess shellfish food safety and animal health issues, targeting human and mollusc pathogens as well as toxin producing algae that bioaccumulate in shellfish. The resulting assays will be adapted for use in the field as well as in the lab, revolutionising portable diagnosis within the field of shellfish production.

Funding Amount:


Duration of Project:

18 Months

Project Outcome:

This method-development research project looked to unlock the power of nanopore technology to innovate a “one health” molecular toolbox to detect biological threats that are of concern to the shellfish industry. The technology facilitates single-molecule sequencing of long-size fragments of DNA or RNA using a small, portable sequencing device. The portability of the device permits real-time metagenomic surveillance in resource-limited settings. Set up can be established rapidly to monitor outbreaks, identify novel pathogens, and collate important data to help break the chain of transmission of certain bacterial and viral pathogens.

The Cefas team pooled together a cross-team group of experts to deliver the work packages for this project. A combination of molecular techniques was utilised to develop and characterise key pathogens and biotoxin species. Benefits to the seafood industry include improved productivity and sustainability, and reduced commercial risk. The project encouraged collaboration and will strengthen the base for fisheries management and aquaculture development.

Experts are still required to analyse the data produced from the nanopore platform. Refinement and assembly of downstream processing tools, combined with expert training will make this easier for the end user in a multitude of settings (industry, clinical, veterinary, and environmental). A concept animation can be viewed here: Monitoring microbial hazards of shellfish using Nanopore Sequencing – YouTube.

STATUS: Completed

Project Lead

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas)