SPICE (Stress of Pisces as Indicator for the Control of watEr quality)
This new project is funded by the Foundation UNICE which aim is to develop research programs in link with private sector. The main objective of SPICE is to evaluate, routinely, easily, and at low coast, the seawater quality using some fish anatomical characteristics as bioindicator.
The basic idea of the SPICE project is that a vertebrate has normally a development plan with a right-left symmetry (never perfect, for example we are right or left handed more often), and that generally more disturbance (stress) is important during the development of the animal, more asymmetry between left and right side morphology increases. The impact of seawater pollution on the development of larvae or juvenile fish is analysed by comparing asymmetry of their otoliths (structures similar to small "stones" in the head, located in the right and left inner ear).
This new tool will allow to provide a low-cost way to assess the potential stress due to a pollution. It is designed to help managers to carry out a regular monitoring and control of sea water quality.