Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action IF ShrimpLLH


The Marie-Skłodowska Curie action titled “Role of non-phagocytic, lymphocyte-like haemocytes in the antiviral and antibacterial defence of shrimp” is to find better ways to combat infectious diseases in shrimp. One of the most important aims is to stimulate shrimp haemocytes in a direct way to enhance their immunological functions. The project is coordinated by Prof. dr. Hans Nauwynck (Ghent University, Belgium) and will be performed by Omkar Byadgi from October 2020 until September 2022.

Project description

Shrimp aquaculture is the fastest-growing sector of the global aquaculture industry and has expanded enormously in the past three decades. As with all the cases of intensive animal farming, stress and disease can become problematic because of the densities at which individuals are reared. Diseases can only be controlled if the corresponding pathogen is recognized and presented, which then triggers corresponding immune responses. The rapid development of the shrimp aquaculture industry is threatened worldwide by viral diseases, of which White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) is the most harmful and bacterial diseases, of which Vibriosis is the most damaging. Because a single ‘magic bullet’ will not control these diseases, a holistic approach should be used. Appropriate biosecurity and management measures are important in preventing diseases. Stimulating the immunity in shrimp is another factor that can help shrimp in surviving infectious attacks. However, to do so, the immunological role of the different haemocytes in shrimp immunity should be clarified. In the host’s laboratory, it was discovered that there are five distinct haemocyte subpopulations present in Penaeus vannamei, instead of the generally assumed three subpopulations (hyalinocytes, semi-granulocytes and granulocytes). Further research better characterized these three subpopulations. Their phagocytic potential and function towards bacteria and viruses has been analysed. At present, there is no information available on the immunological role of the two new shrimp haemocytes. As these haemocytes do not show phagocytosis and have a large nucleus surrounded by only a small rim of cytoplasm, they resemble lymphocytes in mammals. Therefore, these cells could be called lymphocyte-like haemocytes (LLHs). Therefore, in the ShrimpLLH project, it is paramount to investigate the immunological function of the different haemocyte subpopulations in depth. This will be a valuable finding towards the development and screening of novel antiviral and antibacterial therapies in shrimp aquaculture. Also, the project will give rise to novel markers that can be used in shrimp research (quantification of the specific haemocyte populations and localization) to study the host-pathogen interaction.


These are the objectives of ShrimpLLH:

  • To isolate LLH in a fast and efficient manner to largely improve the LLH viability.
  • To characterise and subdivide the LLHs by monoclonal antibodies.
  • To analyse the immunological functions of haemocyte subpopulations.

Role of Ghent University

Ghent University supports the effective implementation of ShrimpLLH. The EU-office will act as an interface between both the European Commission and other administrative offices at the university.



Prof. dr. Hans Nauwynck

Laboratory of Virology
Faculty of Veterinary Medicine
Ghent University
Salisburylaan 133
9820 Merelbeke

tel: +3292647373