Cermaq researcher could help improve mitigation of fish diseases

Aquaculture North America Staff
November 08, 2018
By Aquaculture North America Staff
Øyvind Brevik’s research relates to SRS, the most serious disease for Chile's salmon farming and the main cause of antibiotic use in Chilean farming.
Øyvind Brevik’s research relates to SRS, the most serious disease for Chile's salmon farming and the main cause of antibiotic use in Chilean farming. Photo//Cermaq
Three researchers at Norwegian salmon and trout farming company Cermaq will be defending their doctoral degrees this fall.

One of those researchers is Øyvind Brevik – a fish health biologist who has worked as a researcher in Cermaq Group AS's research department in Bergen, Norway for seven years.

In his doctorate theses, Brevik has developed genotyping tools for identifying bacteria causing disease in fish. This knowledge is important for developing tools for disease mitigation in aquaculture.

Brevik’s research work is directly applicable to the industry and focuses on intracellular bacteria that create health challenges in a number of aquatic farming organisms. One of the bacteria is Piscirickettsia salmonis, which causes the disease "Salmon Rickettsial Septicemia" (SRS). SRS is the most serious disease for Chile's salmon farming and is the main cause of antibiotic use in Chilean farming.

"Intracellular bacteria cause several diseases that cause major problems in aquaculture worldwide. It has been shown that the development of disease-reducing measures, such as vaccines, are very challenging for these bacteria,” Brevik said. “In my PhD thesis, I have adapted methods for gene sequencing technologies for intracellular bacteria. Through this we have shown that SRS outbreaks in Chile are due to several isolates belonging to two different genotypes.”

This knowledge will be used in further vaccine development and testing, as well as providing a basis for better and more effective disease management.

Brevik has developed a methodology for how to best describe new pathogenic intracellular bacterial species and isolates in aquaculture. These methods can be used to map the bacterial transmission ways and how they affect farmed organisms.

"Research is central to Cermaq. We focus heavily on our own research activities and, not least, to take our own and others' research results quickly into use in our global businesses,” said Olai Einen, who heads Cermaq's global research work. “This autumn, three of the five researchers in our research group in Bergen will defend their PhD. I'm incredibly proud of that. Both the research and the researchers are important to Cermaq and to the industry."

Cermaq has operations in Norway, Chile and Canada.
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