PFI: Transforming Environmental and Physiological Assessments Using Fish Erythrocyte Gene Expression to Measure Responses
This Partnerships for Innovation (PFI) project is a Type III (A:C) partnership between University of Idaho, an NSF PFI graduate (0090635), and Idaho State University, an institution new to the PFI Program (defined as one that has never been a PFI grantee) seeks to address the lack of modern techniques and protocols to assess physiological health of fish by development, validation, and calibration of a novel and potentially transformational product: the erythrocyte assay system for fish (EASY-F). This assay system will capitalize on the fact that fish erythrocytes are nucleated and thus have a complete genome to respond to environmental conditions and experimental manipulations. Assessment of the physiological health of fish requires sensitive, accurate tools that can provide rapid assessments and predictive information.
Fish play crucial and multiple roles in human society; they are valued as essential components of the aquatic environment in the U.S.; they are considered biomarkers to assess the health of aquatic ecosystems, and they are important to the sport and recreation industry in the U.S. What unites the various roles of fish in the environment and human society is that they all depend on production of healthy fish, both in nature and in farms and hatcheries. Testing and development of the proposed EASY-F quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) mini array will have an impact on Native American interests in salmonids directly. Tribal Groups are co-managers of salmonid fisheries and each tribe operates its own fisheries department. Successful partnership with tribal stakeholders begins with research collaboration, technology sharing, and data exchange. Development and validations of the EASY-F system will rely in large part on the direct collaboration of tribal stakeholders. In turn, the use and commercialization of the EASY-F technology will directly affect tribal interests by providing additional opportunities to train tribal fisheries scientists, raise the level of technological expertise in tribal fisheries departments, and improve information exchange among stakeholders crucial to the co-management of the fisheries. Ultimately, technology transferred from this project has the potential to influence the management of fish populations affected by disease or other environmental stressors, populations under restoration, and captive populations being enhanced to increase productivity.
Partners at the inception of the project are: Academic Institutions: University of Idaho (Moscow and Hagerman, ID) (lead institution), Idaho State University (Pocatello, ID), and University of Chile (Santiago de Chile; Private Sector Organizations: Cooke Aquaculture Inc. (Blacks Harbour, New Brunswick, Canada), Portneuf Regional Medical Center (Pocatello, Idaho); Federal Government Organizations: Agriculture Research Service, Department of Agriculture; and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Bozeman Fish Technology Center, Bozeman, MT), Department of Interior; and Native American Organization: Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission (Portland, OR).