Scott MacAulay’s review on improved surveillance and earlier diagnosis of aquatic pathogens

Arguably the greatest issue facing aquaculture today is that of infectious disease. Combine this with the turbulent and ever changing nature of water, prevention and mitigation of aquatic diseases can be challenging.

Ideally the old adage “prevention is better than cure” would be followed but this is not always possible, depending on the system, species and environment. Here, the authors collate a range of surveillance and diagnostic techniques used in aquatic systems, from those historically used to those commonly used now to those with future potential.

The techniques covered were be broadly characterised into three categories: visual, cellular and molecular. Visual methods cover the majority of historical methods where observation of condition was relied on, but the two largest caveats to this are the difficulty of observation of organisms in water and that observation of clinical signs indicate infection is already established. The future of this category is leaning towards methods such as Artificial Intelligence and remote surveillance. Cellular techniques cover methods such as culturing, serology and biochemistry. Molecular techniques have now become the standard, with PCR and qPCR in routine use. Methods such as eDNA and LAMP are rising in popularity, whilst the diagnostic push from the COVID-19 epidemic has revealed the potential for previously established diagnostics, such as lateral flow tests, to be utilised in different fields.

Scott MacAulay, SWBio DTP student

Review: Moving towards improved surveillance and earlier diagnosis of aquatic pathogens: From traditional methods to emerging technologies by Scott MacAuley, Amy R.Ellison, Peter Kille and Joanne Cable in Reviews in Aquaculture