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VIU researcher developing tools to better manage infection in salmon

Spencer Russell studies tenacibaculum, an infectious bacteria that affects multiple fish species
Spencer Russell, right, is researching better tools to detect and manage bacterial infections in salmon. (Photo courtesy Vancouver Island University)

A VIU fisheries and aquaculture associate professor is working to understand and manage bacterial infections in salmon.

Tenacibaculum is a marine bacteria responsible for tenacibaculosis, or mouth rot in salmon which causes issues for salmon production on the B.C. coast and in much of the world. When salmon smolts move from freshwater to saltwater, the stress can leave them vulnerable to infection.

“If we sample ocean water, we can find it, and research has shown we can find it occurring on jellyfish, sea stars and other marine animals. It’s out there,” said Spencer Russell, in a VIU news release. “We are trying to understand what changes occur when fish move from freshwater to saltwater that predisposes them to be infected by these marine bacteria.”

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The prof’s research aims to help manage the disease caused by the bacteria, improve fish welfare, mitigate the use of antibiotics in aquaculture and identify key species for future vaccine development.

There is an increasing amount of information being spread about tenacibaculum and its impact on farmed fish, but “what we really don’t understand is interactions with the microbial communities” he said.

The study is funded by a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada Alliance grant and a Mitacs grant.

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About the Author: Nanaimo Bulletin News Staff

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