Animal Health and Aquaculture

Principal Investigator:
Benjamin Costas Refojos

Animal welfare is an important issue with implications in susceptibility to stress and diseases. Unsuitable farming conditions can lead to antibiotic overuse as prophylactic and therapeutic treatments, being a major cause for the emergence and widespread of antimicrobial resistance. Therefore, alternative and sustainable management strategies against infection are urgently needed. Within this context, A2S team aims to explore innovative and sustainable solutions to improve the health condition of farmed animals. Both fundamental understanding of the mechanisms involved as well as practical approaches in collaboration with companies are pursued. In particular, the research being developed by A2S Team is focusing on:

Sustainable strategies to improve animal health. Nutritional approaches for animal health management are expected to contribute to reduce the need for non-sustainable solutions such as antimicrobials. Beyond nutritional strategies, biotechnological concepts such as the isolation and characterization of antimicrobial peptides for animal’s immunization are also being carried out.

Host-pathogen interactions. Host-pathogen interactions are vital to our understanding of infectious disease, as well as its treatment and prevention. Through the investigation and analysis of the different stages of infection, the mechanisms by which pathogens invade and proliferate in their hosts can be elucidated.

Unravelling the neuro-endocrine/immune interactions. Studies are being directed to the effects of stressful husbandry conditions on the neuroendocrine-immune network. Attention is given to the role of cortisol, catecholamines and opioid receptors on the modulation of the immune response.

Publications Highlights

Machado M., Arenas F., Svendsen J.C., Azeredo R., Pfeifer L.J., Wilson J.M., Costas B. (2020) Effects of water acidification on Senegalese sole Solea senegalensis health status and metabolic rate: implications for immune responses and energy use. Frontiers in Physiology 11, 26. [doi: 10.3389/fphys.2020.00026]

Ramos-Pinto L., Martos-Sitcha J.A., Reis B., Azeredo R., Fernandez-Boo S., Pérez-Sánchez J., Calduch-Giner J.A., Engrola S., Conceição L.E.C., Dias J., Silva T.S., Costas B. (2019) Dietary tryptophan supplementation induces a transient immune enhancement of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) juveniles fed fishmeal-free diets. Fish & Shellfish Immunology 93, 240–250. [doi: 10.1016/j.fsi.2019.07.033]

Fernández-Boo S., Pedrosa-Oliveira M.H., Afonso A., Arenas F., Rocha F., Valente L.M.P., Costas B. (2018) Annual assessment of the sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) humoral innate immune status: Tales from the north Portuguese coast. Marine Environmental Research 141, 128-137. [doi: 10.1016/j.marenvres.2018.08.007]

Machado M., Azeredo R., Fontinha F., Fernandez-Boo S., Conceição L.E.C., Dias J., Costas B. (2018) Dietary methionine improves the European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) immune status, inflammatory response and disease resistance. Frontiers in Immunology 9, 2672. [doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02672]

Azeredo R., Machado M., Afonso A., Fierro-Castro C., Reyes-López F.E., Tort L., Gesto M., Conde-Sieira M., Míguez J.M., Soengas J.L., Kreuz E., Wuertz S., Peres H., Oliva-Teles A., Costas B. (2017) Neuroendocrine and immune responses undertake different fates following tryptophan or methionine dietary treatment: tales from a teleost model. Frontiers in Immunology 8, 1226. [doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2017.01226]