Thursday, October 7, 2010

MSc Module 1: Aquatic Animal Biology and Health

The first two-week module of the Sustainable Aquaculture MSc course at the University of Stirling was titled ‘Aquatic Animal Biology and Health’. This was designed to introduce the overall physiology, as well as some of the common diseases, of a variety of cultured organisms.

Professor Lindsay Ross kicked off the first two days of the module: Monday consisted of lectures covering evolution and classification of fishes, husbandry, respiration, excretion, and osmoregulation. The next morning found us in the laboratory doing a practical on comparative structure and function in three different finfish: brown trout (Salmo), catfish (Clarius), and tilapia (Oreochromis). Full dissections were done for each specimen, and we discussed how the different structures served different functions in each. Wednesday we were given lectures on molluscan biology by Trevor Telfer, and Thursday we covered crustaceans with Janet Brown in the morning and then conducted another practical on the Dublin bay prawn (Nephrops) in the afternoon. Friday we were given an overview lecture of shrimp farming, and then we were back in the lab, doing dissections of mussels (Mytilus), scallops (Pectin), and oysters (Crassostrea).
The second week was devoted to health and diseases of aquatic organisms, and it started off with Jimmy Turbull lecturing on parasitic, bacterial, and fungal diseases in fish. Tuesday we covered viral diseases in lecture, then went to the lab to practice sampling techniques for different types of disease diagnosis. Wednesday we continued with these practical sessions, working on bacteriological, viral, and histological methods. Thursday we received lectures on different pathogen identification tests, as well as public health as it relates to aquaculture. Friday morning we were given the opportunity to tour the facilities at the Institute of Aquaculture, covering virology, bacteriology, histology, and the Institute’s microscopy facilities, which include both a scanning electron microscope (SEM) and a transmission electron microscope (TEM).

Overall, the module was very in depth and served as a solid foundation to bring everyone in the class up to speed. Many of the students are not biologists, and it is obviously very important for them to understand this material. I found the physiology section to be a great refresher of material I have previously learned, but I have never been exposed to the disease side of things, and it was very interesting to learn about.

The next module is Aquaculture and the Environment, which I am very much looking forward to!

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