Marine Scotland Science: commercial testing and diagnostic work

Information on the MSS commercial advice and diagnostic service for the diagnosis, surveillance and screening of fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases and pathogens, which it does for the aquaculture industry and associated service providers

A key priority for Marine Scotland Science (MSS) is to prevent the introduction and spread of serious aquatic diseases in Scotland, as well as investigating and diagnosing unexplained mortalities.

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MSS is able to provide a commercial advice and diagnostic service for the diagnosis, surveillance and screening of fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases and pathogens, which it does for the aquaculture industry and associated service providers, District Salmon Fishery Boards, Fishery Trusts, Academics and other stakeholders who own or have a responsibility in relation to animals.

This includes:

  • a suite of diagnostic laboratories specialising in bacteriology, histopathology, immunology, molecular genetics, parasitology and virology
  • the capacity to sequence DNA and RNA of isolates and perform genotyping and phylogenetic analysis
  • a standardised approach to diagnostic sampling and testing by prioritising analytical methods based on scientific knowledge (Specificity [Sp] & Sensitivity [Se] testing)
  • commercial screening of samples as requested (see below)
  • National Reference Laboratory Functions (NRL)

Find the following below: 

  • Diagnostic Services Price List
  • Diagnostic Services Brochure

There is also two forms for diagnostic services request:

Sample submission form

Use this form to submit details of your samples directly to the Diagnostic Group mailbox. Samples may be sent by post or special courier but must also be accompanied by a printed copy of the completed sample submission form.

Isolate request form

Use this form to request an isolate from our microbial, nucleic acid or viral collections. Requests are submitted directly to the Diagnostic Group mailbox


The group has specialist expertise in fish and shellfish bacteriology using both traditional and molecular techniques.  A diagnostic service is provided to support the Fish Health Inspectorate to maintain the health status of fish and shellfish in Scotland. We have interests in emerging fish and shellfish pathogens and are continually developing and improving our bacteriological identification methods.

The bacteriology laboratory participates in tri-annual proficiency testing (VETQAS) for the culture and identification of bacterial diseases in cold water fish to ensure the continued quality of our techniques.

The group also maintains an extensive culture collection which holds a variety of marine bacterial species isolated in the laboratory since 1978.  This culture collection supports a variety of diagnostic and research functions.

We would be pleased to receive any queries at:

Freshwater Bacteriology

Salt or Brackish Water


Histology is the study of cells at the microscopic level. Most cells are colourless and transparent so sections are stained to allow particular structures and components to become visible. By examining the detailed structures of cells and their formation into tissues and organs, pathologists gain information to allow the detection of disease.

Our histology staff have years of experience in the processing of tissues from a wide range of aquatic animals. The histology laboratory offers a comprehensive service for light microscopy including:

Also related:

Contact Us

For additional information on our histology/histopathology services, please contact:


Histopathology involves the microscopic examination of tissues to detect abnormalities and signs of disease; allowing the detection of a wide range of both infectious and non-infectious diseases.

Marine Scotland Science provides an experienced histopathological diagnostic service for the investigation of both wild and farmed finfish, shellfish and crustacean diseases.

Also related:

We provide detailed pathology analysis and reporting for:

We have a comprehensive physical and electronic slide archive containing reference material for a wide range of diseases and conditions in many species.


The primary role of the parasitology staff at Marine Scotland Science is to identify parasites and provide advice associated with fish health issues for the Fish Health Inspectorate, other stakeholders and the public.

Within the diagnostic group, current areas of interest include Gyrodactylus salaris screening, identification of  Neoparamoeba perurans, the causative agent of amoebic gill disease (AGD) and analysis of Red Vent Syndrome (RVS) in wild Atlantic salmon.

In addition, the group can offer a range of diagnostic services such as sample screening, pathogen identification and sequence analysis.

Common fish parasites:

For further information please contact:

Molecular Genetics

he scientists working in Diagnostics have a wide range of expertise in molecular biology, diagnostics & research, supported by a custom-built molecular genetics suite providing the highest standard in biosecurity and quality utilising separation of processes and the most up-to-date equipment.

The Molecular Genetics team is fully equipped to carry out automated nucleic acid extraction, conventional and real-time PCR assays and sequencing and in addition to providing a statutory and commercial diagnostic service, they offer virus typing for virulence characterisation and confirmation of isolations from bacterial and viral pathogens. We also have access to next generation sequencing technology.

We have UKAS ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for a wide range of real-time PCR analyses for fish, mollusc and crustacean diseases including:

We continually develop and improve our methodologies and add to our range of analyses to meet industry and legislative requirements. We also have UKAS Flexible Scope accreditation to allow quick validation of new assays.

The group participates in EU, UK and international proficiency testing for the detection of viral and bacterial diseases to ensure that high quality standards are maintained. We also have experience in organising proficiency tests.

Molecular Genetics Suite

Within the molecular genetics suite, scientists have access to a wide range of the most up-to-date technologies and equipment for genetic analysis.

Fully Automated RNA/DNA Nucleic Acid Extraction

Fully automated nucleic acid purification from a wide range of starting materials including tissue, cells and supernatant. High-quality nucleic acids are available for use in a number of downstream applications such as QPCR, RT-QPCR and Sequencing.

Real-time PCR

The laboratory has two Roche Lightcycler┬« 480s and one Roche┬« 96 plate based PCR platforms for gene detection and gene expression analysis. Real-time PCR is an ideal approach for pathogen screening.


We are experienced in sequencing of conventional PCR product and subsequent data analysis. We also have access to next generation sequencing technology based at the Freshwater Laboratory.

Accreditation and Assay Validation

The Diagnostic Group has UKAS ISO/IEC 17025 accreditation for a wide range of real-time PCR analyses for fish, shellfish and crustacean diseases detailed in our commercial testing brochure.

We would be pleased to receive any queries at


The Marine Scotland Science diagnostic group undertakes screening of farmed and wild fish for the identification of notifiable, non-notificable and exotic diseases. A collection of viral isolates dating back to 1977 are maintained within our culture collection. Staff are experienced in viral isolation and identification, aquarium challenges and validation of diagnostic methods.

The laboratory participates in EU, UK and international proficiency exercises and also has experience in organising proficiency testing.

The virology laboratory works to UKAS ISO:17025 accreditation for the following pathogens:

For further information please contact:

Formal quotes and other enquiries

If you would like to arrange a formal quote or have any other enquiries about Diagnostic Services email:

Sample submission form
Isolate request form
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