The Department of Biology of the University of Crete (UoC) (www.biology.uoc.gr) was founded in 1981, and soon gained the leading role in Greek biological research and education and a conspicuous role in European research. Members of the Department staff have been involved in more than 100 research projects during the last decade covering a wide range of disciplines such as molecular biology, genetics, plant biology, systematics, marine ecology, fisheries and aquaculture. The Department comprises 28 professors and lecturers, permanent technical and administrative personnel of 25, and more than 100 research scientists and postgraduate students involved in contracts associated with special research projects.

UoC has coordinated and successfully collaborated with ATEITh, Nireus SA and HCMR in a Greek national project that tried to implement marker-assisted selection for European seabass (BASSGEN, EPAL) and ended in 2015. The preliminary results of this project have initiated RobustBass submission because they showed that cortisol responsiveness was a repeated trait and that fish with constantly Low (LR) or High (HR) resting and post-stress cortisol concentrations were identified. Moreover, some quantitative trait loci (QTL) that influence cortisol, glucose and lysozyme concentrations seem to be located in the same genomic regions (linkage groups) with QTL suggested to have an effect on weight. Since stress is being considered as an important cofactor for reproductive dysfunctions and disease outbreaks in this species which in turn hampers production, we believe that this trait might be a promising selection index in future breeding programmes.

Scientists involved:

Dr. Michail Pavlidis is an Associate Professor at the Department of Biology (UoC, Greece), head of the Fish Physiology Laboratory and Docent Professor at the University of Eastern Finland (Kuopio), Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences. He has more than 20 years of experience in fish physiology / endocrinology with emphasis in Mediterranean marine species of economical importance for aquaculture. He has participated (as coordinator, principal investigator or National Network leader) in 26 EU, Bilateral and national funded R&D projects and networks relevant to aquaculture. He has published 62 peerreviewed papers and more than 100 articles in conferences proceedings, book chapters and popular magazines. Dr. Pavlidis declares that he is aware that duplication of funding is not allowed for the same (whole or partial) research project and that the work proposed is not part of a funded project. The present transnational research project was conceived and developed in the context of the COFASP call objectives by the project consortium.

Dr. Athanasios Samaras is a postdoc fellow at the Department of Biology (UoC, Greece), at the Fish Physiology Laboratory. His research interests concern the stress physiology and welfare of European sea bass and other Mediterranean marine fish in aquaculture. The most recent works involve the evaluation of hormonal and biochemical stress indicators as candidate selection traits in genetic selection programs and the study of the mechanisms regulating individual differences in the stress response in European sea bass.