PROJECT AMBASSADOR OF June 2014
Dr Ángel González / Instituto de Investigaciones Marinas, Spain
Dr. Ángel González is the co-coordinator of PARASITE and leader of workpackage 3, which deals with sample and data management. The WP is aimed at providing management tools for traceable and high-quality storage samples to be used within the project as well as at implementing a scientific and technological-based Biobank for zoonotic parasites in fishery products. This WP has also the objective of implementing a computer-aid epidemiological geo-referenced database for zoonotic parasites in fish stocks and products marketed in Europe.
About Ángel González
He is the head of the Marine Resources and Ecology Department and the Marine Ecology and Biodiversity Research Group (ECOBIOMAR). To date, he has participated in 31 multidisciplinary research projects on Marine Ecology and published 92 papers on SCI journals and has been lecturer of postgraduate courses in Marine Biology and Fisheries Management at three Spanish universities. He is also member of the Editorial Board of Fisheries Research and Aquatic Biology and referee of other 17 SCI international journals.
Dr. Ángel González has given us some key answers related to his work within the Parasite project:
Which are the main advantages for the project of setting up a biobank infrastructure?
The main advantage of the PARASITE Biobank Solution (BB) is that represents open innovation, non-profit service organized as a technical unit defined with quality criteria, order and destination, ensuring complete traceability of the samples and associated data. The solution allows facilitating future multidisciplinary studies, which will be able to use the samples maintained in the BB. The BB is a transversal tool linked to all workpackages but, especially, to Parasite Exposure Assessment (WP2) and Quantitative Risk Analysis (WP8). The computer interface of the Biobank includes efficient and secure control of user access, sample registration, reliable automation and connectivity, the possibility to register the location and storage of samples, easy connection between different networks, or other BB and the potentiality to make advanced searches. The computer interface allows the partners to fill remotely the fish/parasite data. The only requirement is an Internet connection. The application assigns a unique code to each sample and the related information is attached automatically to this identifier.
What kind of samples can be and are actually stored in the biobank? What are the limits of this kind of infrastructure?
To date, we have stored more than 7500 vials with parasite samples from different origins, together with their associated data. These samples have been obtained from the analysis of more than 5000 fishes of different species collected in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as from Pacific waters. On the whole, we have more than 60000 parasites, and more than 1000 DNA and protein samples in the four biobank nodes (Vigo, Rome, Bergen and Madrid). For storage, all the samples are codified in tubes using 2D codes that ensure full traceability of the sample over time, while not representing extra work for the laboratory staff.The parasite samples are managed according to TFC (Type of sample/Format/Conservation) standardised protocols.
Concerning the limits of the samples to be stored, it will depend on the infrastructure we are able to handle and on the number of samples collected. In our case, we cannot provide the final number of samples to be stored because it is not possible to know in advance the quantity of parasites that will be found in the analysed fish. However, its potentiality is enormous.
In the Parasite project, it is planned the development of epidemiological maps that will include information on, for example, demographic infection values. How this material will be made available for consumers, scientific community and policy makers? How can each of these groups benefit from this information?
The first task carried out in PARASITE project was a comprehensive systematic literature survey on (1) existing epidemiological data for zoonotic fish parasites, (2) key information provided by a technological vigilance and intelligence report, and (3) the mass media perspective given by a comprehensive document reviewing the impact of the parasites in the final potential consumer. That information gave us an overall perspective on the objectives we have to target in the future. Moreover, the epidemiological information is being incorporated in a computer interface to enable register of parasites of human health and commercial significance in those fish species of highest importance for the European market. All this information is valuable for personnel involved in fish and fisheries, from researchers to consumers and it allows, among other issues, to increase the traceability of the fish and associated information and to make it available to the public, pointing also the first targets to implement future studies.
What type of measures can derived from the use of these maps?
Based on epidemiological data, we will design and develop assessment utilities implemented as a web-application. It will include demographic infection values interpretable using a “traffic light code” coding system, ArcGis risk maps, a photo gallery for parasite diagnosis based on parataxonomic criteria and evaluation of non-conformities, recommended practices and up-to-date legislative requirements with normative indications. Obviously, the confidential data obtained about more affected areas and species will help us to decide where to initiate the implementation of the palliative technological devices, such as the TEDEPAD. This innovative equipment kills the parasites carried by the viscera thrown at sea after the fish processing on board, which represent a re-infestation of the marine ecosystems. All these studies, as pointed before, will be made in accordance with the responsible of the WPs 2 and 8.