Staff Publications Projects and contracts Thesis Group Web Marine Science


Our investigation aims to increase the knowledge on transcriptomics and proteomics of the immune response of fish and molluscs to pathogens. Furthermore, we try to identify genes that can be used as biomarkers in processes of genetic selection and improve the immune response by using immunostimulants and vaccines.

For this purpose, we study the innate immune response: action and variability of antimicrobial peptides (AMPs) and cytokines, the study of inflammatory processes, antiviral and antibacterial activities, etc. To do this, we employ techniques of immunology, microbiology, molecular biology (new generation sequencing systems, transcriptomics studies using microarrays, gene knockout, etc.) and protein biochemistry. We also use zebrafish as a model system for the study of fish and human diseases (septic shock, inflammatory illnesses, etc.)


The National Reference Laboratory for mollusc diseases develops its tasks inside this research group. It was accredited in 2011 with ISO 17025 standard for different diagnostic techniques for mollusc pathogens and depends of the Ministerio de Agricultura y Pesca, Alimentación y Medio Ambiente (MAPAMA). Dr. Antonio Figueras (director), Dr. Raquel Aranguren, Dr. Sonia Dios and Mrs. Begoña Villaverde form the Laboratory staff.



  1. Molecular basis of innate immunity of fish and interaction with pathogenic agents.

We have made a significant effort in massive sequencing, microarrays and even sequencing of two complete genomes (turbot and mussel). The results of these investigations have opened many research possibilities, especially regarding how regulation of the immune response against pathogens is produced. We will confirm the role of the genes that we have identified as some interferon regulated genes or lipid mediators and we will study its possible use in fish infection processes such as immunomodulators or adjuvants for vaccines and also its use as possible biomarkers associated with immune resistance that could be used in selection processes.

For this purpose, once again, we will make use of the zebrafish. We have its complete genome, and the possibility to block gene expression with morpholines and transgenic fish strains with fluorescent cells (neutrophils, macrophages, endothelial cells) or expressing different kind of fluorescent molecules (IL-1, IFN1) that allow visualizing gene expression in vivo. Our aim is to study the chronic inflammatory condition associated to obesity (which is important in aquaculture and biomedicine), the processes that occur after the infection (interaction among components and cells of the immune system) or the relationship between antiviral immune response and adaptive response (very important in vaccination). Also, with help of Rag mutants (with only innate immune response since they do not have lymphocytes B and T) we aim to study the importance of innate response in infectious processes.


  1. The immune system of bivalve molluscs and its biotechnological potential.

In addition to our work in the National Reference Laboratory collaborating in the coordination of tasks related to the diagnosis of mollusc (oyster, mussel, cockle, clam, etc.) diseases, it is necessary to deepen our knowledge of the bases and mechanisms of disease resistance. We are establishing agreements and partnerships at both European and international level to act in a coordinated way in this field. We are finishing the sequence of mussel genome, since it is one of the most important marine food resources for Galicia and for Spain and probably the genome can be a very significant source of information for researchers from many fields. In our case, it will cast light on genes of the immune system and particularly it will be really valuable for continuing with the study of the antimicrobial peptides (AMPs). We have proved that synthetic peptides of mussel Myticine C have a powerful inhibitory effect against the oyster herpes virus that has severely depleted oyster production in France and other countries. It has also shown potential to inhibit replication of fish virus (as we have previously described), and recently we have confirmed its activity against human viruses. Therefore, the biotechnological potential of the genome of these animals is yet to be discovered.



Beatriz Novoa García


Phone: +34 986 231930 ext. 860286

Alejandro Romero Jódar


Phone: +34 986 231930 ext. 860287


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