CSTFA Our Research Aquatic Animal Health

Aquatic Animal Health

The Aquatic Animal Health team within the CSTFA conduct research which enables fisheries, aquaculture and Australian quarantine to make informed decisions in regards to stock structure, disease management and import regulations. Researchers are experts in bacteriology, virology and parasitology and integrate this knowledge with practical, applied research to assist with biosecurity and risk assessment, disease diagnosis, management and treatment.

Aquaculture is the fastest production sector in the world, particularly in the tropics. However, infectious diseases cause considerable loss to the aquaculture industry and pose latent risks to continued production. At James Cook University, our expertise ranges from viral and bacterial pathogens of crustaceans, to metazoan parasites of fishes.

Research conducted by JCU researchers enables fisheries, aquaculture and government stakeholders, to make informed decisions in regards to stock structure, disease management and import regulations. This marriage of pure and applied research has led to the development of unique and strong partnerships between industry, academia and government agencies. With access to many expert researchers in genetics, nutrition, biotechnology and bioinformatics, the Aquatic Animal health team is well resourced to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to disease management in Tropical Aquaculture species.

Aquatic health specialists undertake sponsored and contract R&D and partner closely with industry to develop solutions that assess and lower disease risk. Projects recently conducted involving industry include assessment of prawn samples to determine the presence of pathogens in wild and aquaculture raised stocks. Research is also focused on the management of viral infections of finfish including Ranavirus and Betanodavirus. Another major R&D capability is in the Vibrio harveyi clade of bacteria and their virulence determinants including the role of bacteriophages.

The Aquaculture Biosecurity and Health team has access to Australia’s largest tertiary aquarium research infrastructure at JCU if required to undertake larger-scale industry-relevant R&D. JCU has developed a National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA) accredited pathogen detection laboratory, JCU AquaPATH, with capability for shrimp and finfish viral and bacterial pathogens, and offers R&D and commercial testing services to industry.

Dr Kelly Condon

E kelly.condon@jcu.edu.au P +61 7 4781 6842

The Aquatic Animal team specialises in virology, aquatic epidemiology and general health of sea turtles and freshwater turtles. Current research topics are ranavirus, chelonid herpesvirus 5, normal intestinal microflora, bacteriophage treatment, health assessment criteria for turtles, and leeches as vectors of disease. Dr Ariel is the team leader of the Turtle Health Team, and instigator of the new research facility: "The Caraplace".

Our aquatic health specialists undertake sponsored and contract R&D and partner closely with industry to develop solutions that lower disease risk. Projects recently conducted involving industry include development and testing of a vaccine to prevent VNN in grouper, development of integrated management solutions for tropical marine aquaculture, identification of parasite risks associated with the import of ornamental fishes and optimising procedures involved in assessing turtle health and treatment of sick animals.

A/Prof Ellen Ariel

E ellen,ariel@jcu.edu.au P +61 7 4781 4123

  • Strategic approaches to prioritising and managing disease risks posed by the importation of ornamental fish
  • Establishing Baseline Health Assessment Criteria for Green Turtles (Chelonia mydas)
  • Tropical cleaner fish and shrimp as controls of ectoparasites in aquaculture
  • Development of Preventative Vacing and iRNA to prevent Viral Nervous Necrosis in giant QLD grouper
  • Handling Mortality in Redclaw Crayfish (Cherax quadricarinatus) from farms
  • Establishing Baseline Health Assessment Criteria for Green Turtles (Chelonia Mydas)
  • Flatback turtle's whereabouts: Identifying migration pathways and critical foraging habitats to protect.

JCU AquaPath - NATA accredited pathogen detection laboratory

Turtle Health Research JCU - Turtle research facility