L'Houmeau site

La Rochelle Ifremer station (located in L'Houmeau) provides facilities dedicated to ecophysiology studies (ecotoxicology and/or physiology) using small fish (fresh- and salted water model species and young marine fish). Phenotype analysis include molecular analysis, physiology, reproductive (incl. embryonic development) and behaviour characterisation.

Fish research platforms have existed since a long time within Ifremer L'Houmeau laboratory in which they underpinned the development of studies in fish developmental biology, behavioural phenotyping, reproduction and quantitative genetics. Therefore, researchers associated to the platform have acknowledged skills in the above fields. Within the last years, they develop tox/ecotox activities and have set-up facilities dedicated to the understanding of the effects of pollutants or drugs on fish ecophysiology.

Production and exposure facilities: L'Houmeau site provides structures for production and breeding of model fish species. For zebrafish, several wild type and transgenic lines are available. The fish production facility has a 24/7 automated supervision of zootechnical parameters (e.g. illumination, temperature, water quality and level). Exposures are performed in a distinct and dedicated room from which fish never go back in the production room. Production room currently hosts 7 racks with 150 tanks in separated closed circuits (6 in freshwater and 1 in seawater) with a total capacity of more than ~3000 adult fish which allow the daily production of thousands of eggs for zebrafish and hundreds for marine medaka. Exposure rooms currently hosts 6 racks with a total capacity of 120 flow-through tanks (~2000 adult fish). The flow-through system allows the rearing of fish under different treatment in neighbouring tanks, i.e. limiting bias as much as possible. A similar additional room will be built in year 3 of the project in order to extend the exposure capacity.

Outflow water treatment is operational.

Exposures: Exposures can be performed at any life stage including reproductive ones. Depending on the stage and requirements, exposures can be performed through several routes in order to mimic exposure that may occur in the environment. This includes exposures through diet and water. In addition, exposure through contact with sediment can be performed with demersal embryos or juvenile flatfishes. Food and sediment are provided by the platform but medium contamination should be performed by client. If the client has no ability to perform these contaminations, they may be performed with additional costs by associated laboratories/platforms. If specific medium has to be prepared; exposure will be performed in a sequential manner with first a small scale experiment to monitor medium behaviour in water and if applicable the absence of appetence modification between spiked and control media. The chemicals or pollutants and exposure procedures will be discussed on a case by case basis in order to ascertain staff, neighbour population and environment health security.

Exposures can be performed in a chronic manner (starting and ending at any time) or acute. In this latter case, fish may be breed afterward during a required period of time (e.g. embryo-larvae exposure and rearing until reproduction).

Phenotype analysis: Service can be limited to exposure and samples dispatched or all or partial analysis can be performed in L'Houmeau. Analytical abilities include biometry, morpho-anatomy, gamete and spawn qualification, and biochemical markers markers such as hormone assay (ELISA) or enzymatic assay (spectrophotometry, chemiluminescence, fluorimetry). In addition, L'Houmeau structure has the ability to perform some qualitative and semi-quantitative gene expression analysis with staining techniques (immunostaining or in situ hybridisation performed with an automat on embryos or later stages on whole individual or sections) and quantitative analysis with one qPCR apparatus. Finally service provided can include monitoring of several individual behavioural traits at any stage between larvae and adults.