WP 4: Molecular parasitology – the basis for novel treatment methods

Detailed knowledge about parasite biology is a key factor for success to develop novel methods for parasite control. Such knowledge may open for development of sustainable methods for fighting the parasite like vaccines and efficient and targeted pharmaceuticals.

This part of the Sea Lice Research Centre includes studies the parasite from first attachment on the salmon, via feeding and uptake of nutrients, to molting, germ cell development and reproduction.

 Parasites like the salmon louse have a fixed numbers of molts before they become adults and start to reproduce. Currently there is very limited information about regulation of molt and control of the growth of sea lice (from copepodid to adult). By using an integrated research approach consisting of state of the art molecular tools (e.g. bioinformatic, microarray, RNAi) and the excellent experimental facilities at the wet-lab, key biological processes will be explored for new targets to be evaluated to immune control (vaccine) or other control measures (e.g. medicine).

 The research in WP4 includes characterization of molecular changes in the parasite at first attachment to the salmon host including how to identify a suitable host. First attachment may activate exocrine glands that have assigned roles in immunomodulation, production of saliva, mucous, cuticula, digestive enzymes and pheromones. Furthermore, it will be important to understand the changes in the gut at feeding, uptake of nutrients and how the nutritional status is signalled to rest of the body cells. General body growth, moulting and production of mature germ cells are processes that at least in part depend on good supply of nutrients and are major determinants for the success of the parasite. Molting is a highly complex process that at least in part is under endocrine regulation. This type of regulation is also important for germ cell development and maturation. Studies of endocrine systems in sea lice will therefore important in the research.

WP leader: Rune Male, UiB
Co-researchers: Frank Nilsen, UiB and Sussie Dalvin, IMR

Administered by: University of Bergen, Department of Biology, PO box: 7803, NO-5020 Bergen,
Phone: +47 55 58 44 00, E-mail: post.slrc@uib.no