Marine Environmental Research Laboratory (MERL)

The Institute of Aquaculture is a leading international centre in its field, and one of the largest of its kind in the world. Our excellent staff, facilities and networks, including the Marine Environmental Research Laboratory (MERL), make us the natural first choice for academic, commercial and public research partners from across the globe.

MERL is the Institute’s marine site at Machrihanish near Campbeltown on the Kintyre peninsula. This versatile facility pumps and filters seawater 24 hours a day and hosts a wide range of academic and contract research, including pharmaceutical development for salmonid aquaculture to the Good Laboratory Practice (GLP) standard. 

Our capabilities

We have a total of 151 flow-through and recirculation tanks ranging from 0.1m3 - 13m3, including a dedicated quarantine facility, and equipped with environmental monitoring and a liquid oxygen supply. Seawater can be filtered, sterilised and temperature controlled. Several experimental systems of up to 30 identical tanks are available for replicate trials. Bespoke systems can be built to meet requirements for size, water quality, feeding, lighting and other variables.

The laboratory is licensed for animal research and fully compliant with European Union and UK legislation. We maintain Atlantic salmon on site for trials aimed at improving salmon and trout aquaculture in Scotland and around the world.

We run a range of studies including fish nutrition and performance, selective breeding, triploidy and environmental control technologies, but most commercial work on site takes advantage of our challenge models of sea lice and amoebic gill disease (AGD). Controlled infections allow us to offer the following in drug development services, to GLP if required:

  • in vivo safety testing
  • pharmacokinetics
  • in vivo efficacy testing against sea lice, including drug-naïve sea lice
  • bioassays on farm isolates for drug sensitivity, starting with just a few gravid female lice

We are flexible enough to consider new species, assays and challenge models; and being part of the Institute of Aquaculture gives access to a wide range of academic collaborators.

Contact us

Please contact Chessor Matthew for further information.