IMAQUA @Aquaculture Europe 2023 in Vienna

The innovation breeze is floating in the air at a vibrant and full of action conference in Vienna. Natasja Cox’s presentation on Effect of salinity drop on susceptibility to WSSV infection in Litopenaeus vannamei shrimp using a per os challenge model yesterday was intriguing (to say the least) and today we are continuing with making new connections, exchanging ideas and putting together action plans for the new year ahead.

New publication in Viruses MDPI

We are very pleased to announce that the newest paper of our PhD Candidate, Natasja Cox, entitled “The Way of Water: Unravelling White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) Transmission Dynamics in Litopenaeus vannamei Shrimp” has now been published in Viruses MDPI. This study was the result of a collaboration between IMAQUA and the Laboratory of Virology and the Department of Morphology at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, and the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center, at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering, Ghent University.

For accessing full article:


Imaqua is present at the Blauwe Innovatiedorp in Oostend today, 01-06-2023. As a partner in the BlueMarine³.Com project we present the research towards a viable multispecies hatchery including L. vannamei to the public. Meet us at stand B5!

Animal care technician


Currently we are looking for an animal research technician to join our young and dynamic international team working on challenging research projects in shrimp aquaculture. Working alongside other scientific staff you will support our research activities through daily shrimp care, monitoring, recording and reporting on various shrimp health parameters.


Your tasks among others will include:

  • Feeding the shrimp and monitoring of various shrimp health parameters
  • Preparation of shrimp feed
  • Reporting through collection and entry of data into the electronic database
  • Daily maintenance and support of shrimp breeding facilities
  • Carrying out shrimp breeding procedures
  • Carrying out various experimental trial procedures, including preparation and clearing up of experimental facilities
  • Contributing to optimisation of existing standard operating procedures and work instructions.


  • Bachelor degree in animal care, biology or related study fields
  • Experience in animal care
  • Experience in aquaculture is a plus
  • Flexible, proactive and motivated
  • Solution oriented
  • Eye for detail, precision, discipline
  • Resilience and strong sence of responsibility
  • Willing to work on weekend rotation (1-2 weekends per month)
  • Good spoken English


– An attractive salary package proportional to performance and responsibilities

– Intensive in-house training and coaching

– Being part of an international team of aquaculture experts at a dynamic company

– Participating in exiting aquaculture research projects 

– Free coffee/tea/fruit

If you think you are a good match for our requirements, then please send us your CV to or apply directly on LinkedIn

Closing date for applications 15/05/2023

PhD candidate position

Doctoral project title: 

Hepatopancreatic microsporidiosis in shrimp: development of new laboratory techniques for studying pathogenesis and defence


Aquaculture of shrimp has become an important industry worldwide, but disease outbreaks remain a major problem. One of the most recently discovered pathogens in shrimp is the microsporidia Enterocytozoon hepatopenaei (EHP). Microsporidia are fascinating organisms, obligate intracellular parasites that belong phylogenetically to the fungi but share some properties with viruses. EHP has been associated with disease of the digestive system (hepatopancreatic microsporidiosis) and retarded growth. However, many aspects of this disease are not yet well understood, such as the pathogenesis and immune response of the shrimp. In addition, there are specific challenges associated with working with microsporidia in the laboratory that need to be addressed first.

This PhD project will be carried out in a collaboration between IMAQUA and Ghent University.

IMAQUA is a professional Contract Research Organization (CRO) established in 2015 as a spin-off company of Ghent University to conduct contract research for the shrimp farming industry. At IMAQUA, shrimp diseases and host defenses are studied in detail to establish science-based disease models.

The Aquaculture Laboratory at the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering of UGent has a very long experience and proven track record in (doctoral) research. Besides its role as Artemia Reference Center (ARC), the research group has an extensive international network in countries with shrimp aquaculture and close collaboration with other faculties at UGent.

To make this PhD project possible, an application for a Baekeland mandate will be submitted to VLAIO, the Agency for Innovation and Entrepreneurship of the Flemish Government. Baekeland mandates aim to offer researchers the opportunity to perform a PhD in close collaboration with a company.

Assignment of the doctoral candidate and research proposal

  • Implementation of the research project in collaboration with IMAQUA and Ugent (employed at IMAQUA, enrolled as a PhD at Ugent). 
  • The main activity is scientific research, including literature study, practical work in laboratories and with live laboratory animals. This work will be carried out at both UGent and IMAQUA based on the cooperation agreement between the two organizations.
  • The ultimate goal of this research is to complete a dissertation within a four-year period, based on published articles in scientific journals.
  • Furthermore, the doctoral candidate will also present his/her results at international scientific conferences and workshops.
  • The plan of the research project has already been worked out by the promoters.
  • The doctoral candidate will have to defend the submitted project before a jury of VLAIO, where especially the motivation and scientific attitude of the candidate will be evaluated.

Profile of the candidate

  • You have a Master’s degree in veterinary medicine, bioengineering sciences or similar biomedical field.
  • You have a basic knowledge in laboratory techniques (pipetting, sterile working,…) and biosafety concepts.
  • You have a strong interest in research and want to master a subject in a systematic and scientific way.
  • You are a go-getter, with self-reliance, but also good to work in a team.
  • You are motivated and determined to work hard for 4 years and make a PhD thesis.
  • Your English language skills are impeccable (verbal and written).
  • You are willing to work partly in Ghent and partly in Lochristi. 

We offer you

  • The possibility to obtain a PhD within the duration of the mandate. A mandate lasts in principle four years (2 years, and after positive evaluation a second term of 2 years). 
  • The opportunity to participate in a breakthrough in the research of a pathogen that is still little understood. In addition, microsporidia occur in most animal species, including humans where the discovery occurred only in the 1980s in HIV patients, providing many career opportunities toward the future.
  • Support from a dynamic team of colleagues for hands-on work.
  • Support by experienced scientists and professors for publishing and presenting your research work in scientific journals and at international conferences.
  • Employment at IMAQUA with salary package corresponding to the rules of PC207.

Contact and timing

  • Submit application and CV: mail to
  • The application period runs until March 1, 2023.

Selected candidates will be invited for a personal interview in the first week of March 2023

Kick-start of C-Shrimp project

Crystal clear shrimp: next generation water filtration and waste up-cycling, for sustainable and profitable indoor shrimp farming

Duration: December 1, 2022 – November 30, 2025

Label: DBC project (ongoing)

The last decade has seen a strong growing interest in aquaculture and related activities in Flanders, both from the industrial side and from the government. A general problem that arises and complicates further scaling up to commercial sites is the high cost of production and the increasing pressure on local resources (water, space, raw materials). This project will make it possible to produce larger volumes of sea food on smaller areas, at a competitive market price and according to sustainable principles.

The overall objective of this project is to develop an indoor shrimp culture concept with zero water exchange and almost zero waste production. The new concept is based on improved clear-water technology, enabling intensive shrimp farming. At the same time, the footprint will also be reduced by recycling waste into a product that promotes shrimp health. To that end, C-shrimp will:

– Build a new experimental facility as the starting platform to develop all the tools. 

– Add a module to grow microalgae that will remove nitrate from the system.

– Develop a new filtration system to remove significantly more solid sludge from the shrimp RAS system. 

– Develop a new fermentation process to convert shrimp RAS waste into a feed material for shrimp farms. 

– Develop a modified shrimp diet that has immunostimulatory effects and contains less fish and soybean meal.

In the first place, this project is needed to farm sufficient shrimp for the expanding CRO work of IMAQUA in Flanders. If this new farming concept can be successfully commercialized in the future, it will be a breakthrough for European fish, shellfish and crustacean production and improve competition with imported products. The techniques developed will also be relevant for scaling up hatchery and nursery installations.

Partners: IMAQUA, Avecom, Trome, Ghent University

With the support of: VLAIO and the European Union

Contact person: Lien Loosvelt


The FResCO project of the spearhead clusters Catalisti and De Blauwe Cluster was recognized as an intercluster project within the Flemish policy plan bio-economy, financed from the relaunch plan ‘Flemish Resilience’. With these funds, the Flemish government gives an extra impulse by supporting (inter)cluster projects between the research world and various private sectors that fall within one or more of the themes defined in the bioeconomy policy plan.

Laboratory technician

Job description


IMAQUA is Contract Research Organisation that provides contract research services to the shrimp aquaculture industry. We provide high quality testing services for application on the development, validation and valorisation of shrimp health products. We consult on conceptual issues and various aspects of shrimp health and immunity.


Laboratory technician at our microbiology laboratory will have the responsibility for supporting laboratory management, client trials and internal R&D activities essential to the innovation portfolio and smooth functioning of IMAQUA.

The ideal candidate should have a strong interest in animal sciences, particularly aquaculture and previous laboratory experience. Besides the ability to follow protocols and instructions and flawlessly executing of laboratory procedures, he/she should share our passion for driving innovation with the highest quality standards.

You will work alongside our scientific staff on challenging research projects in shrimp aquaculture. We offer an attractive salary package proportional to performance and responsibilities.


· 3-5 years of laboratory work experience

· Studies in biotechnology or similar

· Proficient with following techniques: qPCR, Microbiology, Histology, Cell culture, ELISA

· Hands on experience working with laboratory animals

· Must be able to handle multiple assignments successfully

· Must be precise and accurate, well organised with excellent time management skills

· Must be able to perform in a demanding, fast-paced environment

· Good mathematical (basic statistical skills highly desirable), problem-solving and analytical skills

· Well-developed interpersonal skills

· Possess strong initiative, professional, team player attitude

· Ability to follow strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) and to develop new ones

· Discrete and able to handle confidential data

· Excellent English language skills, spoken and written

· Ready to work on periodical weekend shift


Planning and execution of in vitro microbiological/molecular tests and in vivo infection trials:

· Bacterial culture

· Determination of MIC of experimental antibiotics, probiotics and feed additives

· Bacteriostatic activity with agar diffusion assay of experimental products

· Fixation and staining of thin sections of shrimp tissues

· Microbiology test of shrimp gut digestive and hepatopancreas

· Analysis immune parameter of shrimp haemolymph and tissues

· Shrimp haemocyte collection, total count and differential count

· Probiotics and pathogen co-culture assay

· Shrimp gene expression analysis

· Planning and preparation of trial documentation

· Setting up and execution of controlled infection experiments on shrimp

· Drafting of internal reports

Organisation and quality control:

· Responsible for routine laboratory compliance and maintenance

· Managing laboratory materials stocks and inventory

· Ensures strict adherence to biosafety rules and procedures

· Manages laboratory records and files

Handling and execution:

· Correct blood withdrawal from shrimp & testing of immune parameters

· Examination of animals for behavioural changes or clinical symptoms

· Ensures execution of GLPs in the lab and follow safety rules and procedures

· Development of daily planning of laboratory procedures and coordinating their execution

If you are interested, please send your CV and motivation letter to

Project manager for contract research trials


  • PhD degree in Veterinary Medicine, Bioengineering, Biology or related fields
  • Basic management skills (time/processes/resources)
  • Efficiency and effectiveness in performance of tasks
  • Ability to prioritise and solve problems
  • Driven and energetic team player
  • Strong sense of responsibility and attention to detail
  • Ability to develop procedures, draft work proposals and reports
  • Effective communicator
  • Excellent English (spoken and written)
  • Advanced knowledge of Excel and other Microsoft office tools, statistic program


Management of contract research trials and related activities:

  • Plan, coordinate and execute contract research trials
    • Solve issues and escalate complex issues to management
    • Liaise with clients and manage client database 
    • Motivate, coordinate and manage day to day activities of the team 
    • Develop and enforce research policies and Standard Operating Procedures
    • Analyse data, draft reports 
    • Manage and optimise the workflows
    • Oversee and assist the employee training


– An attractive salary package proportional to performance and responsibilities

– Intensive in-house training and coaching

– A possibility of rapid career development

– Being part of an international team of aquaculture experts at a dynamic company

– Participating in exiting aquaculture research projects 

Please send your CV and motivation letter to before 08/01/2023


We just returned from another successful Aquaculture Europe event in Rimini, Italy. Its impressive convention center surprised not only with hundreds of participants and extra wide allays, but was a great space for sharing new big ideas and having in depth discussions on challenges in nowadays aquaculture.

Natasja Cox, our PhD student has presented very promising research results in her oral presentation “Development of standardised In Vivo WSSV individual and group challenge models for experimental infection studies in Litopenaeus vannamei shrimp.”

Meetings with partners, current and potential clients and extensive scientific discussions have been carried on even after hours with a glass of authentic Belgian beer brought all the way from Flanders (big thanks to our friends @Trome).

IMAQUA team is returning with a boost of enthusiasm and enriched with new knowledge. We are bringing home some inspirations, some ideas to be implemented and some to be challenged.

Tom Baelemans, Natasja Cox, Joao Lima, Elija Adomelyte, Elena Alves, Katerina Rehakova and Evelien de Swaef

Ir. Mathieu Wille is joining IMAQUA as new Project and Facility Manager 

We are delighted to share the news, that on 01/09/2022 Ir. Mathieu Wille joined us in a role of Project and Facility Manager. 

Coming from the Laboratory of Aquaculture and Artemia Reference Center (Ghent), Bioscience-engineer Mathieu Wille has gathered over 25 years of experience in aquaculture research, specializing in different aspects of broodstock and larval nutrition of fish and shellfish. 

He worked as senior scientist-project manager in many national and international projects, trained and supervised students at MSc and PhD level and taught courses on crustacean farming. Mathieu is co-author of close to 70 publications in scientific journals and books. 

In recent years he was strongly involved in Ghent University’s business development center BLUEGent, performing research services for the industry. 

At IMAQUA he will be managing research and infrastructure development projects and will ensure smooth functioning of the testing facilities.

Ir. Mathieu Wille