In this project, INRA, the main institute for agronomic research in France puts forward three installations for TNA:
1) PEIMA is the main salmonid experimental station in France, and one of the largest in Europe, and is dedicated to all kinds of studies on mainly trout genetics and physiology, and interaction between those;
2) INRA St Pée Infrastructure which is a unique set of installations devoted to nutrition research in freshwater salmonids;
3) INRA-IERP (Fish Infectiology Platform) is the INRA experimental facility dedicated to fish infectiology. INRA has internationally-recognized teams in fish physiology, genetics, nutrition and pathology (>400 peer-reviewed papers in the last 5 years) which will be involved in the networking and joint research activities.
INRA-STPEE facilities include three platforms, two full scale experimental fish farms with flow through raceways supplied with water at constant water temperature (8 and 17°C) and one specialised, original dedicated facility for fish nutrition research under controlled re-circulated water systems that allows feeding behaviour studies and digestibility measurements. INRA-STPEE facilities thus enables fish nutrition research work all through the life cycle from larvae to broodstock.
Platform 1: The Experimental fish farm at Donzacq has a complete feed manufacturing plant with a twin-screw extruder. There are also wet lab facilities for in vivo work as well as samplings. The water supply is from natural springs at a constant 17°C with oxygenation and gas desaturation. The farm has large (160 m3) and small scale (5000 and 200 l) flow through raceways and individual tanks of different sizes: 20 small tanks of 50 l for hatchlings, 48 1m² tanks, 18 2m² tanks, the latter with computer controlled feeders.
Platform 2: At the experimental fish farm at Lees Athas, a constant water temperature of 7°C enables nutrition studies on cold water salmonids. The facility comprises of a hatchery for up to 400 groups of eggs; a UV-treated thermoregulated system for the production of eggs and fry; 84 self-cleaning tanks for growing juvenile salmonids, of special interest for studies on nutrient-genotype interactions, 16 tanks of 200 l, 32 tanks of 500 l; 6 concrete out-door circular ponds of 12 to 20m3 for studies with broodstock nutrition, 8 raceways of 12 to 20m3 for studies with broodstock nutrition.
Platform 3: Specialised facilities
3.1 Control of feed intake and feeding rhythms: A set of 2 independent recirculated systems each with 12 tanks, each of which is equipped with self-feeders specially developed by the research team (Boujard et al., 1992) to (i) monitor feeding rhythms, (ii) control feed distribution over the daily cycle and (iii) evaluate the amount of feed distributed. Each tank is equipped with faecal collectors, so accurate knowledge on feed intake by fish is gathered over long periods. The setup also enables feed choice experiments.
3.2 Digestibility: In a recirculated temperature-controlled system, the system consists of three series of six cylindro-conical tanks connected with a continuous automatic faeces collector. The set up originally developed by the research unit (Choubert et al. 1982) has been recognised by EIFAC as the most valid method for in vivo studies on digestibility measurements with fish. This makes possible evaluation of apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC) of both diets and feed ingredients, and the estimation of suspended matter loss of dietary origin. A Quality-control system has been developed for ensuring the validity of standardised protocols and methods.
Services currently offered by the infrastructure
INRA-STPEE can undertake all types of nutrition research experiments on freshwater salmonids. It has been actively used in experiments from EU projects from the 5th to the 7th FP (PEPPA, RAFOA, GUTINTEGRITY, FINEFISH, AQUAMAX, PROMICROBE, ARRAINA).
An added strength to the experimental infrastructure is the proximity of research laboratories having all the necessary analytical equipment for nutrition related work: proximate and chemical composition analyses, bomb calorimeter, UV-visible spectrophotometers, HPLC, GC, cell culture facilities, histology and image analysis, molecular biology and genomics (real time PCR, phosphorimager). The laboratory provides a healthy environment for scientific interaction and exchange.
In addition to the above, technical support for daily experimental work and technical help for samplings will be provided to all users. INRA scientists will assist users for experimental design and data interpretation.
Modality of access
INRA-STPEE will carry out nutrition experiments on any life-stage of freshwater salmonids, either in open-flow farms at constant temperature (platforms 1 & 2) or in controlled specialized units (3). A combination of platforms 1&2 for different temperatures and 1&3 for feeding behaviour, digestibility measurement and feeding trial can also be used. The usual trial duration is 3 months in order to allow sufficient growth of the fish. The access will comprise the use of tanks including maintenance, water supply, daily feeding and husbandry of fish; manipulation, and sampling of fish. Access to all dry laboratory facilities and other infrastructural, logistical, technical and scientific support to external users is offered, as well as office access with PC and international phone, fax and internet communications. Experienced staff will carry out the standard procedures and the general maintenance; however, the external user will be strongly integrated in all processes, recordings, evaluations, preparation and dissemination of results.
INRA-STPEE will provide advice on experimental design and methodology, documentation of results for all experiments conducted during the project, and appropriate sampling and conservation of samples. Specific feeds can be produced for the experiments using the feed manufacturing plant. Provision of experimental fish can be done using the fish lines available on site. Provision of specific genetic settings (different (isogenic or selected) lines and their crosses) should be agreed in advance.
Unit of Access
Unit of Access: The unit of access is defined as 1 tank a week; equalling the occupation of 1 standard fish holding unit per week. One trial is expected to comprise 16 tanks on average (i.e. to test three factors and one control in quadruplicate, during twelve weeks).