National Food Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Mørkhøj Bygade 19, DK-2860, Søborg

External Organisations

  • Wageningen IMARES, Netherlands
  • Leiden University, Netherlands
  • National Centre for Scientific Research "Demokritos", Greece
  • Polytechnic University of Valencia, Spain
  • Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research, Norway
  • Ghent University, Belgium
  • University of Copenhagen, Denmark
  • National Institute for Agronomic Research, France
  • Billund Aquaculture Service Aps, Denmark
  • National Institute of Sciences and Technologies of the Sea, Tunisia
  • Institute of Marine Research, Norway
  • Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Norway
  • BioMar A/S, Denmark

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Reproduction of European eel (Anguilla anguilla) in culture has become a research priority area due a severe decline of natural stocks and an increasing interest to breed eels for a self-sustained aquaculture. As eels do not reproduce naturally in captivity, development of methodology and technology was needed for production of viable eggs and larvae from broodstock in a regular and predictable way.

Focus of PRO-EEL project was on the primary bottlenecks in a controlled reproduction of eels, which concern deficiencies in knowledge about eel reproductive physiology and methods applied to induce and finalize gamete development. During a 4-year period, the project significantly expanded current knowledge on the eel reproductive mechanisms and hormonal control of sexual maturation. The consortium developed standardized protocols for assisted production of high quality gametes (egg and sperm) and artificial fertilization, thereby obtaining a stable production of viable embryos. Furthermore, egg incubation procedures and culture of yolksac larvae were established for the first time for European eel, leading to the first feeding stage. The project disseminated novel literature on early life stages, including their ontogeny and requirements thereby describing egg and larval stages still unknown in nature and providing important information for future development of larval diets and rearing technology. Methodology and technology was established using small scale tests and validated in full scale experimental facilities managed by DTU.

The project was an international, EU-funded research project characterized by an integrative and multidisciplinary approach. The consortium brought together leading experts in eel reproduction complemented by expertise in disciplines filling gaps in knowledge and technology. The consortium included 15 partners, comprising European research institutes and industry partners as well as an international collaboration partner country (ICPC). Within DTU, the project involved DTU Food, Research Group for Bioactives – Analysis and Application, and several DTU Aqua research areas including Fish Biology, Aquaculture, Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics, and Coastal Ecology.

The project was coordinated by DTU Aqua.


  • Research areas: Fish Biology & Aquaculture & Marine Populations and Ecosystem Dynamics & Coastal Ecology
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