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CORDIS - Résultats de la recherche de l’UE

AQUAculture infrastructures for EXCELlence in EUropean fish research 3.0

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - AQUAEXCEL3.0 (AQUAculture infrastructures for EXCELlence in EUropean fish research 3.0)

Période du rapport: 2022-05-01 au 2023-10-31

Aquaculture now provides 53% of seafood for human consumption worldwide, but despite importing 70% of fish consumed, aquaculture production has stagnated in the EU. Aquaculture and its sustainable development is therefore an integral part of the EU's Blue Growth Strategy and one of its pillars that will contribute to the Europe 2020 Strategy. The strategic aim of AQUAEXCEL3.0 is to boost EU aquaculture research on essential topics for the EU industry by making available the top European aquaculture research infrastructures to the best research teams across and beyond Europe, and select and promote, with the industry, the research results with the highest innovation potential
Transnational access (TNA) to AQUAEXCEL3.0 infrastructures is the central part of the project, with more than 50% of the budget. A new TNA application system for AQUAEXCEL was developed within the ARIA cloud-based platform and an open call for access to the 40 infrastructures issued. Guidance documents for applicants, facility managers and reviewers were developed and published. A Selection Panel was appointed, and a permanently open call was launched. Applicants, facility managers and reviewers were surveyed for initial feedback, which resulted in improved procedure and guidance. So far, 89 TNA applications have been received, 62 approved and 32 projects completed.
AQUAEXCEL3.0 also has the ambition to become an important driving force of innovation in the aquaculture sector, contributing to bridging the gap between academia and industry. A dedicated Industry and Research Advisory Panel (IRAP) assessed the potential impact of project outputs, both from the project itself and from TNA results. A total of 14 outputs with high potential impact were presented to the aquaculture community through several face to face and virtual brokerage activities, and the publication of output videos. Integration of AQUAEXCEL3.0 with other RIs resulted in the AQUASERV project (granted for 2024-2029) and discussions about a possible future ESFRI.
We started external communication and dissemination of the AQUAEXCEL3.0 project overall, its results and knowledge, and associated activities such as the TNA programme and brokerage events. Main results achieved so far include the AQUAEXCEL3.0 Dissemination and Exploitation Plan, an elaborated portfolio of communication and dissemination tools and resources (including practical guidelines on video development), a training course leaflet, and of course the website where a lot of resources (interactive map, videos, publications, guidelines for Transnational Access) are made available and constantly updated. We delivered ou first online training course, on ‘Welfare indicators’, which will be made available on an ongoing basis in the future for everyone to be able to benefit from it. The Transnational Mobility Programme for research infrastructure technicians, between AQUAEXCEL3.0 partner institutes, permitted to 13 technicians to learn new techniques abroad, to foster a culture of cooperation between RIs and learn best practice from each other.
Within AQUAEXCEL 3.0 we also perform Joint Research Activities that aim to improve the services provided by the infrastructures. These are performed along three main lines:
- Improving experimental procedures through technological tools, which is split into three parts. The work on the Virtual Laboratory has focused on collecting data for validating several sub-models that can be co-simulated to improve realism in simulations. In biotelemetry we have produced a review of the field as well as new methods for post processing results. In nanopore technologies we have produced a standardized sequencing protocol and are currently benchmarking Nanopore sequencing technologies.
- New biological models for aquaculture research using innovative biotechnologies. Improvements of Germ Stem Cells (GSC) grafting were achieved in many aquaculture species including the preparation of sterile recipients using morpholinos or triploidization, and the preparation of donor GSC. Knock-down and knock-in were successfully generated using the CRISPR/Cas9 technique to edit candidate target genes and generate new in vivo biological models in salmonids, especially one for a major allergen parvβ1 in Rainbow trout. New in vitro biological models were characterized or are being generated to study nutrient uptake or immune response (especially the interferon pathway).
- Improvement of fish welfare in experiments and industry. For European aquaculture industry there is a need to be able to objectively evaluate the welfare of fish of the most common aquaculture species by comparing different species under the same conditions. Therefore, suitable welfare indicators (WI) and technologies to measure the WI`s for relevant European aquaculture species have been defined for harmonized experimental plans for experiments in tanks, cages and for enrichment studies. These experiments re now completed and are being analyzed.
The management team pursued an efficient management and coordination during this 2nd period in order to ensure that the project progresses according to the work plan.
Transnational access is fully operating, with 62 proposals approved so far. The call for access is permanently open, and we expect to approve up to 200 projects by the end of 2025, covering all types of species, systems and disciplines, for the benefit of European aquaculture. The most significant results will be identified by the project team and the IRAP, and further promoted to the end-users and investors through in-person and online brokerage events.
By the end of the project, we expect to have a fully functional Virtual Laboratory that will permit to simulate experiments with several species in most of the consortium’s infrastructures, thus facilitating experimental planning and reducing the need for pre-experiments. By using new biological models, we expect to be able to reduce the use of experimental animals, and to replace some of them by cell lines and/or organoids. Finally, we will issue practical guidelines on how to evaluate fish welfare in experimental settings, and provide solutions to improve this welfare. Globally, most of the planned work is on track, so we believe that expected outputs will be achieved, with a positive impact on EU aquaculture research, with improved cooperation, better experimental procedures and more meaningful results. Through our innovative knowledge transfer mechanism, we expect that the main innovations will be adequately identified and conveyed to the industry and other potential end-users, thus directly impacting the EU aquaculture sector.