A team of researchers from the JU Faculty of Biology led by Dr Krzysztof Rakus will study the effects of gill diseases caused by CEV (carp edema virus) on the immune systems of fish. The project will be realised in collaboration with scientists from the University of Veterinary Medicine Hannover and funded by a grant from the National Science Centre.
The Beethoven LIFE programme, set up by the National Science Centre and Deutsche Forschungsgeheimschaft, aims to support high-quality research in life sciences. It seeks to provide funding to research projects carried out jointly by researchers from Poland and Germany and to strengthen bilateral international cooperation. In the first edition of the programme, 10 out of 70 applications have been awarded with grants, with a grand total of 11.5 million zlotys (~2.6 million euro).
The project of Dr Krzysztof Rakus will focus on the carp edema virus disease (CEVD), colloquially known as the koi sleepy disease. The pathological changes in gills induced by the disease lead to physiological disorders in fish, often causing their death. Over the past few years, CEV has spread around the world, resulting in massive fish die-offs. Scientists suspect that the virus also causes immune system deficiency. Different varieties of carps exhibit varying degrees of susceptibility to the virus – for instance, grass carps are fairly resistant to it, while koi fish are quite vulnerable.
‘Within the framework of the project, we will look for the reasons behind the varying levels of immunity to the virus in different carp varieties. We will investigate how immune system disorders caused by CEV affect the probability of infection by other pathogens. As a result, we will be able to assess the impact of stress on carp immunity to viruses and increase our knowledge of anti-viral immune response mechanisms preserved by evolution. This is the best way to ensure that fish are better protected from diseases’, reads the project description.
Dr Krzysztof Rakus is a comparative immunologist at the JU Department of Evolutionary Immunology. He is chiefly interested in fish immunity, particularly in the area of viral infections and genetic markers. He is also currently studying behavioural fever in fish within the framework of a Sonata Bis grant.