Harmful Algae Bloom Monitoring (HAB)
Harmful algal blooms occur on a seasonal basis and can have detrimental effects on the coastal shellfish farming/harvesting and finfish farming industry. A diverse array of microalgae exists and, depending on the species, release toxins or and/or cause physical damage to the gills and suffocation.
The Biotechnology department of Fiskaaling performs qPCR-based monitoring services for the aquaculture industry with the goal of providing a fast and economical quantification of harmful microalgae types present in water samples from salmon farm sites throughout the Faroe Islands. Furthermore, the generated data can be used to establish requirements for harmful algae monitoring and toxin detection in relation to shellfish harvesting.
Ongoing improvements to the service: There is a need to develop regionally tuned methods for monitoring purposes because the genetic signature of microalgae species varies throughout the Nordic region. In order to meet this need, we are continually working to increase our knowledge in traditional microscope-based taxonomy and cell counting of phytoplankton. In addition, we are looking to establish Faroese-specific microalgae cultures that can be used to validate the molecular assays we develop.
Related research: The service is further supported by a recurring research project where all samples collected during seasonal monitoring are sequenced on a yearly basis. The research enables us to track the overall microalgae diversity within the Faroese fjord system and compare the seasonal patterns with other environmental and aquaculture relevant data such as lice counts and gill health scores. In the future, high-throughput molecular monitoring of microalgae may act as an indicator for climate change. Therefore, we see microalgae research as an important focus in the years to come.
Contact: Ása Jacobsen