Description of the Action
The main aim and objective of the Action are to organize and coordinate an innovative and dynamic Network, connecting academia, industries and water management authorities to advance and apply knowledge and expertise on zoosporic parasites (i.e. aquatic fungi and fungi-like microorganisms) and the relation with their hosts in natural ecosystems and industrial algal biotech production.
Zoosporic parasites cause severe host mortality of aquatic organisms. The economic impacts of parasitic diseases are notable in the microalgae biotech industry, affecting the production of food ingredients, biofuels, pharma- and nutraceuticals. But zoosporic parasites also constitute important drivers of natural populations, potentially influencing aquatic food webs and community dynamics, including maintaining and promoting diversity.
We will compile and share knowledge on the occurrence of zoosporic parasites and their relationship with hosts, elucidate drivers and evaluate the impacts of parasitism in aquatic environments and algal biotech production. We aim to implement new tools that can be used to promote better and safer algal production, such as methods for monitoring and early detection, or strategies for mitigating parasitic infections. But not only. We will explore ways for the valorization of aquatic parasites for the production of essential bio-molecules and advocate the importance of diversity and full ecosystem approaches to promote food-web stability and resilience in aquatic systems and introduce zoosporic parasites as bioindicators of ecosystem health.