"Interactions between reproduction and immune systems in cultured fish: a novel research line at the ICM"

7 Febrer 2020
Sala d'Actes
Impartida per: 
Dra. Laia Ribas
Departament de Recursos Marins Renovables, Institut de Ciències del Mar


                Aquaculture provides ~53% of fish consumption compared to fisheries and it is estimated that by 2050 there will not be enough fish to supply world demand (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, FAO, 2018). One major problem for fish farmers is fish diseases because they can cause serious economic losses due to mortality. The principal cause of such outbreaks is usually the high rearing densities commonly used in intensive finfish aquaculture, which facilitate the transfer and spread of pathogens. Other aquaculture-related problems are based on the sex control due to the appearance of skewed sex ratios towards males, which are responsible to decrease the final productivity. The underlying process of this masculinization due to high temperature has been explained by epigenetic mechanisms occurred in the gonads. However, the relationship between epigenetics and the influence of other environmental factors such as density or infections have still not been documented. Here, it is presented the work performed in the last years at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM, CSIC) to better understand the interactions between the reproduction and the immune systems, a research field barely explored in fish. To perform this novel research line, modern genomic strategies have been performed (transcriptomics, epigenomics and metabolomics) which have allowed to identify markers that can help to improve breeding programs (e.g., selection of the more heat-resistant fish populations or high quality broodstocks).



Brief biography

                Laia Ribas (Terrassa, 1979) defended her doctoral thesis at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) in 2006 under the supervision of Drs. Simon MacKenzie and Lluís Tort and financed by a predoctoral fellowship awarded by the Catalan Government. In her doctoral thesis, she studied the stress and immune responses in fish in order to find markers for the improvement of aquaculture production. She learned genomic tools, allowing her to secure a postdoc at the Imperial College of London with Dr. Mathew Fisher to study the amphibians’ immune response to fungal infections. On her return, she started working in fish reproduction at the Institute of Marine Sciences of Barcelona in the group of Dr. Francesc Piferrer in 2009. In this group, she has specialized in the study of environmental effects on the gonadal development, describing epigenetic and transcriptomic mechanisms. She also set up an experimental zebrafish (Danio rerio) chamber at the ICM. Since 2017, Laia Ribas is leading her own research to study the interaction between the immune and the reproductive systems in fish, using "-omic" strategies. She has 40 publications: 28 included in the Science Citation Index (SCI), H index of 18 with more than 1,000 citations. She has been invited in international meeting and as a member of tribunal theses. Laia Ribas is committed to disseminate her work by leading projects with this aim and publishing two outreach articles.