Date of Award


Level of Access Assigned by Author

Campus-Only Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Marine Biology


Ian Bricknell

Second Committee Member

Deborah Bouchard

Third Committee Member

Mark Fast


The recent research focus on integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) is redefining the aquaculture industry’s approach to intensive aquaculture. More sustainable farm model systems that include multiple farm products with integrated trophic levels are being developed. While these systems may be economically and environmentally more sustainable, it is important to realize that integrating farm products also changes disease risk on farms. This is illustrated by examining how finfish disease risk can increase or decrease depending on the pathogen in a simple finfish / blue mussel (Mytilus edulis) IMTA system. Mussels bio-accumulate and repackage the opportunistic pathogen, Vibrio anguillarum, into infectious fecal particles increasing the potential risk of infection and creating new transmission pathways. In contrast, mussels appear to inactivate the viral pathogen, Infectious Salmon Anemia Virus (ISAV) and potentially serving a role in reducing the transmission of the virus onto and off of IMTA farms.

To understand disease risk on IMTA farms, it is no longer adequate to simply investigate how a given pathogen interacts with its host under a range of environmental conditions. Evaluating the disease risk in IMTA systems requires a better understanding of how pathogens may potentially interact with all of the components of the farm system, while recognizing new potential pathways that may be created or enhanced within and by the system its self. Through a more comprehensive understanding of these potential interactions farmers can apply a range of bio-security and best management practices to limit the risk of disease on IMTA farms. With good management IMTA farms should not increase the risk of disease, but may actually reduce the spread of pathogens in some situations.