Scottish scientists have been awarded a share of more than £6million in funding to tackle diseases in livestock and farmed fish.
Eight projects, of which all but one involve Scottish researchers, are sharing £6.6million in support from the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Animal Health Research Club, Scottish Government and animal breeding and health companies.
The projects aim to tackle a host of issues including porcine reproductive and respiratory syndrome (PRRS) in pigs, footrot in sheep, cryptosporidiosis in cattle and the development of oral vaccination strategies for Atlantic salmon.
“The impact of diseases can be crippling to the livestock sector and costs industry millions of pounds every year,” said farm minister Richard Lochhead.
“It is particularly important that research is carried out that has direct relevance to and the involvement of industry.”
BBSRC executive director Celia Caulcott said: “By targeting these livestock diseases the Animal Health Research Club projects have the potential to protect farmed animals and food supplies and save UK farmers and the wider economy millions of pounds a year.”
Scientists from the Moredun Research Institute are involved in three of the projects.
The first will look at the host factors which determine resistance to cryptosporidiosis in cattle, in a bid to help develop vaccines against the disease.
The second will look at how sheep respond to a new type of vaccine against worms, while the third aims to improve the understanding of immune responses in sheep to footrot.
Moredun scientific director Julie Fitzpatrick said: “We are delighted to have awarded research funding through this initiative to help tackle some very serious diseases that significantly impact on the efficiency of livestock production.
“Moredun’s approach has always been to work in collaboration with the livestock industry to ensure that our outputs are relevant to the needs of farmers.”