Nov 2021 - Nov 2025
Applications for Zoosporic Parasites in Aquatic Systems
Zoosporic parasites (i.e. fungal and fungal-like aquatic microorganisms) constitute important drivers of natural populations, causing severe mortality of host. Economic impacts of parasitic diseases are notable in microalgae biotech industry, affecting production of food ingredients and supplements, bioactive medicinal and biofuels. While scientific research on this topic is gaining traction by increasing studies elucidating the functional role of zoosporic parasites in natural ecosystems, we are currently lacking integrated and interdisciplinary efforts for effectively detecting and controlling parasites in the microalgae industry. To fill this gap we propose to establish an innovative, dynamic European network connecting scientists, industries and stakeholders to optimize information exchange, equalize access to resources and to develop a joint research agenda. ParAqua aims at compiling and making available all information on the occurrence of zoosporic parasites and their relationship with hosts, elucidate drivers and evaluate impacts of parasitism in natural and man-made aquatic environments. We aim to implement new tools for monitoring and prevention of infections, and to create protocols and a Decision Support Tool for detecting and controlling parasites in the microalgae biotech production. Applied knowledge on zoosporic parasites can feed-back from industry to ecology, and we therefore will explore whether the developed tools can be applied for monitoring lakes and reservoirs. Short-Term Scientific Missions and Training Schools will be organised specifically for early-stage scientists and managers – with a specific focus on ITC – with the aim to share and integrate both scientific and applied expertise and increase exchange between basic and applied researchers and stakeholders.
A4F's role is to provide ParAqua with the specialized knowledge and expertise required for microalgae cultivation on a pilot and industrial scale, including the identification and control of contamination in cultivations. We also offer insights into effective mitigation measures that can be implemented on an industrial scale, taking into consideration associated costs and security requirements.