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Targeted strategies for safeguarding the noble crayfish against alien and emerging threats (TARGET)

Project number: NFR/243908

The TARGET project aims to develop cost-effective and environmentally friendly monitoring tools and control strategies for better protection of noble crayfish. This ecologically and economically important species is threatened and red-listed throughout its natural range in Europe.

New methods enable detection of virtually any organism that lives in water by analyzing water samples for DNA traces (environmental DNA / eDNA), a concept that is revolutionizing multi-species monitoring worldwide. In this project the methodology will be implemented for the detection of crayfish and its biological threats from the same water sample. These threats include in particular invasive North American crayfish (e.g. signal crayfish) and the accompanying parasite Aphanomyces astaci causing crayfish plague in European crayfish species. But other species might also pose a risk to freshwater crayfish, and the project will assess whether blooms of toxic cyanobacteria negatively affect noble crayfish. If we succeed in developing rapid eDNA monitoring tools that can provide population estimates for crayfish and simultaneously notify on invasions or blooms of species and diseases harmful to crayfish, this will increase the management authorities' ability to effectively monitor a large number of crayfish populations and rapidly implement necessary measures if biological threats are detected.

However, monitoring alone is insufficient for combating crayfish plague, a disease without any functioning cure that in a short time can eradicate all crayfish from an infected locality. Another project goal is thus to test whether ultrasound technology has the potential to eliminate crayfish plague infection from water and disease carrying crayfish. TARGET unites forces and expertise in relevant disciplines from Norwegian and foreign research institutions, government agencies and enterprises, and will create synergies through close collaboration with ongoing surveillance programs for relevant species.


Projectleader from the Norwegian Veterinary Institute
Trude Vrålstad 

Dr. Sigrid Haande & Dr. Andreas Ballot, Norwegian Institute for Water Research (NIVA)
Researcher Stein Ivar Johnsen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Dr. Lennart Edsman & Researcher Bohman Patrik, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)
Researcher Satu Viljamaa-Dirks, Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira Kuopio, Finland
Associate Professor Adam Petrusek & Dr. Eva Kozubikova-Balcarova, Charles University Prague, Czech Republic
MSc Lisa Brand, LG SONIC, The Netherlands
Professor Tom Andersen, University of Oslo
Associate Professor Peter Rask Møller, University of Copenhagen

Duration: 01.04.2015 - 21.03.2018


Vrålstad Trude

Head of section / Senior researcher

Strand David A.

Post doc