NuMéA: an experimental and analytical infrastructure for the nutrition of farmed fish, unique in Europe

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NuMéAAn experimental and analytical infrastructure for the nutrition of farmed fish, unique in Europe

The NuMéA UMR (Unité Mixte de Recheche, a research team with national level co-financement) has developed experimental infrastructures, unique in Europe, that give the research group total autonomy for conducting experiments on the nutrition and metabolism of the complete biological cycle of the rainbow trout.



The infrastructure consists of:

  • Two experimental fish farms,
  • a closed circuit,
  • a facility dedicated to the production of fish feed.

The INRA's experimental fish farms are situated at Lees Athas in the Pyrénées Atlantiques and Donzacq in the Landes. At the Lees Athas site, a resurgent spring provides a constant temperature of 8° C all year long. This ideal temperature for salmonid reproduction allows experimentation on rainbow trout genitors and very young alevins.

The Donzacq farm benefits from a resurgent spring at 17° C which is the preferred temperature for rainbow trout growth. Equiped with basins of various sizes, the facility provides optimal condiitons for tests of growth and metabolism on juvenile and adult trout.

Together, the two sites allow NuMéA to work on the complete cycle of the trout, from the embryo to the age of reproduction.

This experimental infrastructure is completed by a closed circuit, using municipal water, located near the INRA Aquapole in Saint Pée sur Nivelle. The closed circuit is the basis for a system for measuring digestibility, the only of its kind in France, a system of on-demand feeding for studying behavior and nutrional choices of fish, as well as a number of small basins perfect for research on trout physiology.

NuMéA's experimental facilities are part of the AQUAEXCEL2020 program. The program, in favor of research infrastructure, is financed by the European Union's Horizon 2020 program, has sponsored a wide range of experimental infrastructures. Its goal is to promote research and innovation in European aquaculture. One of the program's key aspects is to give academic and industrial researchers subventions for access to high-quality aquacultural installations, and to numerous other research from 2015 to 2020. The program represents a remarkable opportunity for NuMéA to develop its and international collaborations and reputation.

The NuMéA UMR also has a facility for producing experimental feed, at the Donzacq site. The facility, equiped with fish meal grinders, sieves, mixers, an extruder (Clextral) and a vacuum coater, allows us to produce our own experimental foods in conditions very similar to those of commercial producers. It frees us from the commercial producers and allows us to choose the volume of production (by the kilogram rather than by the ton) and to test a greater diversity of nutritional formulas (nature and proportions of ingredients).

These infrastructures allow research based on integrative biology, that go from the study of the regulation of gene expression to animal performance in the fish farm environment. This research is possible thanks to a panel of complementary competences and the corresponding analytical construct. In parallel with the infrastructures allowing in vivo experiments on trout, NuMéA aslo has a cell culture laboratory for in vivo work on hepatocytes or trout muscle cells.

At the analytical level, the team also has a wide range of workshops for biochemical analysis (bomb calorimeter, Kjeldahl nitrogen dosage, vitamin and amino acid dosage by HPLC, chromatography profiles in gaseous phase fatty acids, atomic emission and micro-wave plasma spectroscopy for mineral analysis...), for histology (coloration and measurement of muscular cellularity) and molecular biology (gene expression and micrRNA by PCR, analysis of epigentic markers on DNA and histones, protein analysis and celluar signaling by western blot...)