New project DeviHeart to study the consequences of deviating heart morphology in farmed salmon 

Our facility is currently facilitating the DeviHeart project (Consequences of Deviating Heart morphology in farmed salmon) led by Michael Frisk at the Institute for Experimental Medical Research (IEMR) at Oslo University Hospital (OUS). DeviHeart is a four-year project funded by the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund (FHF). It involves collaboration with NMBU (Norwegian University of Life Sciences) and several aquaculture companies, including Emilsen Fisk AS, Bjørøya AS, and Flatanger Settefisk AS. 

The primary goal of the DeviHeart project is to investigate the short- and long-term consequences of deviating cardiac remodeling in farmed salmon (Salmo salar). Specifically, the project aims to determine the critical developmental phases for optimal heart growth in salmon. The team will employ various methods to monitor cardiac health, including echocardiography, light microscopy, optical mapping (OM) recordings of calcium transients in whole hearts, and the analysis of production data from aquaculture farms. 

The project is based on the observation of a high prevalence of cardiac morphological deviations in Atlantic salmon aquaculture facilities. Although the exact consequences of these deviations are not fully understood, preliminary and published data suggest that they may negatively impact fish welfare and health. Additionally, an increased prevalence of cardiac remodeling is associated with a higher occurrence of fatal cardiac diseases such as cardiomyopathy syndrome, pancreas disease, and heart and skeletal muscle inflammation. 

Diviating heart morphology in salmon (A – wild, B-D – farmed). Picture taken from article “ Hvordan står det til med laksens hjertehelse?” at 

To investigate the temperature effects during the egg incubation and freshwater phases, the project will be conducted in both commercial and experimental settings. The team aims to identify the critical phases for healthy heart development in salmon. By closely monitoring cardiac health throughout all development phases, the researchers hope to gain insights into the long-term consequences of altered heart development on fish welfare, health, and performance. 

Michael Frisk together with Ida Beitnes Johansen and Marit Stormoen (NMBU) will address the urgent need to understand and mitigate the issues related to cardiac morphological deviations in farmed salmon, with the aim of maintaining a successful and sustainable aquaculture industry while ensuring the welfare of the fish. 

Full description of the project can be found in FHF project base.

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