Fish Virology, Immunology and Ecotoxicology (VIMEP) Unit of the Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort Laboratory

Head of Unit: Thierry Morin

Deputy Head of Unit: Laurent Bigarre

The Fish Virology, Immunology and Ecotoxicology Unit (VIMEP) is located in the Ifremer centre in Plouzané, near Brest. It contributes to better management of the health and welfare of farmed fish, with a particular focus on two types of stressors: infectious agents and environmental pollutants.

Reference activities

The unit has the mandate of National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for regulated fish diseases, which covers all non-exotic and exotic viruses currently listed at European level (Directive 2006/88/EC). The VIMEP Unit also investigates problematic and/or emerging non-regulated viruses.

Research activities

The unit works on two of Anses's cross-cutting strategic themes:

  • the "Animal health and welfare" theme, with the "Fish virology" topic. Research activities in this area focus on the development and/or optimisation of tools for detecting and characterising viruses affecting fish, the experimental study of the diseases induced, and the establishment of prevention and control measures;
  • the "Exposure to and toxicology of chemical contaminants" theme, with the "Immuno-ecotoxicology" topic. This aims to assess the impact of stresses of different origins (pathogenic, chemical, physical, dietary, zootechnical, etc.) on the overall health of fish. The effect of acute or chronic exposure to anthropogenic agents (chemical pollutants, micro- and nano-plastics) is mainly studied through the use of immunological biomarkers and the examination of anti-infectious defence capabilities.

In addition to these strategic themes, the unit is involved in two secondary themes, to support other topics of interest:

  • improving fish resistance to infectious diseases and climate change, through the Fortior Genetics collaborative platform, which brings together ANSES and the French Poultry and Aquaculture Breeders Technical Centre (SYSAAF). The aim of this theme is to provide professionals with solutions to combat major infectious diseases and limit the use of antimicrobials, and also to improve the animals' robustness to changes in environmental conditions (hyperthermia, hypoxia, acidification);
  • a review of antimicrobial resistance and its evolution in the fish farming sector, with the support of the Mycoplasmology, Bacteriology and Antimicrobial Resistance (MBA) Unit of the Anses Ploufragan-Plouzané-Niort Laboratory.

Main research projects

PAQMAN (2020-2023) 

Development of innovative probiotics for marine aquaculture          

Funding: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

SEA2SEA (2020-2023)

Development and validation of marine probiotics encapsulated in seaweed for the health and productivity of aquaculture animals 

Funding: Regional pivotal projects for competitiveness (PSPC)

MEDMAX (2021-2024) 

Maximising gains in genetic resistance to pathogens in two Mediterranean species: sea bass and sea bream              

Funding: European Maritime and Fisheries Fund (EMFF)

POMELO (2021-2023)

High-throughput multi-omics platform for analysing endocrine-disrupting stress in fish

Funding: National Research Programme for Environmental and Occupational Health

TELEVIR project (2020-2022)

High-throughput molecular diagnosis on a farm site in the epidemic phase     

Funding: One Health EJP            

See the project’s web page

Project completed

Immunoecotox (2015-2018)

Assessment of the effects of different chemical contaminants (hydrocarbons and microplastics) on the health status of fish

Funding: internal Anses