Board of Scientific Advisors

Two renowned Ghent University professors Dr. Hans Nauwynck and Dr. ir. Peter Bossier who have been providing support and scientific advice since creation of IMAQUA through partnerships, student collaborations and joint research projects, including Baekeland PhD mandates, have finally joined in a more formal role as IMAQUA’s Board of Scientific Advisors.  

IMAQUA established Board of Scientific Advisors with a purpose to advise the company on its research activities, plans and organisational structure in turn facilitating the creation of knowledge and further development of IMAQUA’s shrimp health research portfolio. The Board should meet at least four times per year to deliberate on various pertinent research topics.

Prof. Dr. Hans Nauwynck is the director of the Laboratory of Virology. He has more than 20 years of experience in research on viral diseases in mammals, fish and crustaceans. 

At present, he lectures several courses on viral diseases in mammals, fish and shellfish. His research focuses on the molecular pathogenesis of viral diseases in humans and animals, with special emphasis on (i) the entry of the virus in its host cell, (ii) the invasion of the virus in its host through barriers, via leukocytes and along neurons and (iii) the escape of the virus from immunity. Better insights led to the development of new diagnostics, better viral disease control measures and tailor-made vaccines. 

With 20 years of experience in the field of viral shrimp infections, he uses his expertise on pathogenesis and control of viral diseases to identify and document the way White Spot Syndrome Virus (WSSV) infects and kills its host.

He is (co-)author of more than 400 publications, past promoter of over 70 PhDs, owner of multiple patents and founder of UGent spin-off Pathosense.

Prof. Dr. ir. Peter Bossier is globally renown leading expert on multiple aquaculture research domains such as microbial community management, host-microbial interactions, genetics, microbiome, blue biotechnology and disease management. He is (co-)author of more than 350 publications, past promotor of over 65 PhDs and Editor of “Aquaculture” Journal since 2017.

Professor Bossier has recently retired from the directorship of the Laboratory of Aquaculture & Artemia Reference Center at Ghent University, where for over 20 years he managed all scientific research of the Center, MSc in Aquaculture program (and since 2021 the Erasmus Mundus Master Programme in “Aquaculture Health Management”) and coordinated research groups, inter-university research programs and projects, including joint Baekeland PhD projects and industrial research projects with IMAQUA. 

New Baekeland mandate holder – Anusha

Introducing Anusha Dissanayake – IMAQUA’s new PhD candidate under Baekeland mandate, granted by VLAIO (Flanders Innovation & Entrepreneurship organisation), who is embarking on a new scientific journey with IMAQUA/Ghent University project “Hepatopancreatic microsporidiosis in shrimp: setup of new laboratory methods to allow study of pathogenesis and immune defense”.  This project aims at advancing our understanding of the pathogenesis of EHP disease in shrimp as well as establishing validated contract research models for its further exploration within the industry.

Anusha obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Fisheries and Aquaculture from the University of Ruhuna in Sri Lanka where she commenced her academic career as a temporary demonstrator and lecturer. Her passion for the field led her to Belgium, where under the VLIR OUS scholarship she earned her Master’s in Aquaculture from Ghent University. Specializing in aquatic resources management, her thesis delved into the reduction techniques of Geosmin and 2-MIB using Biofloc technology. After the master’s degree, Anusha continued as a university lecturer on Aquaculture and Aquatic Resource Management back in Sri Lanka.

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!

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.


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

13th Annual Workshop of the National Reference Laboratories for Crustacean Diseases

On the 1st of June 2022, IMAQUA was invited to speak at the 13th Annual Workshop of the National Reference Laboratories for Crustacean Diseases organized by the National Institute of Aquatic Resources at the Technical University of Denmark.

The purpose of this annual workshop is to provide a forum for knowledge exchange regarding the disease situation in the various EU Member States and to present and discuss scientific projects and new developments in crustacean disease research.

IMAQUA’s PhD candidate Natasja Cox presented our recent advances on the development of experimental infection models for WSSV.

Evelien De Swaef, Senior Project Manager at IMAQUA, presented our progress on the optimization of qPCR procedures for detection of shrimp viruses.

Natasja Cox, PhD candidate, IMAQUA
Evelien de Swaef, Senior Project Manager, IMAQUA