Postal address :
Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal (IATS-CSIC)

12595 Ribera de Cabanes (Castellón)


Contact person:
Francisco Hontoria

Brief description of involvement in Artemia activities or plans :
Essential fatty acids.
Our group is involved in the study of the molecular mechanisms that account for the biosynthesis of long-chain (C20-24) and very long-chain (> C24) polyunsaturated fatty acids in aquatic animals. The production of these compounds requires the participation of fatty acid desaturase and elongase enzymes. We are studying the desaturases and elongases in aquatic invertebrates, including Artemia. These studies open the possibility of establishing culture conditions that enable the biosynthesis of physiologically important fatty acids, resulting in ingredients of high nutritional value.

Nutrition in larviculture.
Our group has extensive experience in the cultivation of live preys for feeding larvae of marine organisms, and on the improvement of their nutritional value through the enrichment and bioencapsulation of essential nutrients such as long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, amino acids and vitamins. Innovative enrichment formulations for Artemia based on liposomes and emulsions with high marine lipid content have been developed. We evaluate the nutritional quality of live preys through the monitoring of their effects on the performance of larval cultures (survival, growth, etc.), as well as by the effects on the biochemical (lipidomic) and molecular profiles (gene expression and proteomics) of the larvae.

Biology and ecology of Artemia.
We are involved in the study of the biodiversity of Artemia, and especially on the mechanisms by which some species of this genus, frequently used in marine larviculture, have invaded biotopes in which they compete with other native species. The biological factors that rule this phenomenon, such as biological fitness, parasitism, population dynamics, biodiversity, genetics, biogeography, invasions, etc., are under scope. Likewise, we are interested in the effect of abiotic pressure, including anthropogenic intrusion, on the aforementioned biodiversity.

Aquatic ecotoxicology.
This line of research proposes the use of Artemia as a model organism in aquatic ecotoxicology studies, focused on marine and hypersaline ecosystems, of both traditional pollutants (i.e. pesticides and metals) and emerging ones (i.e. drugs, personal care products, micro and nanoplastics). Furthermore, we are interested in the responses induced by exposure to pollutants at different levels of biological organization in aquatic organisms, analyzed through biomarkers. Such objectives, of relevance both in the natural environment and in aquaculture, are addressed through bioassays and the application of classical and omics analytical techniques.

As part of the biodiversity studies developed by the Artemia group of the “Instituto de Acuicultura de Torre de la Sal” during the last 40 years, our Institute hosts and maintains a collection of almost 700 Artemia cyst samples. Based on this collection, we have also acquired worldwide information on occurrence of the different Artemia forms. The information of these biodiversity databases has been published in the platform created by the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF) network and it is accessible through the link


Most important Artemia-related papers/books:

M. Torres, J.C. Navarro, I. Varó, Ó. Monroig and F. Hontoria. Nutritional regulation of genes responsible for long-chain (C18-24) and very long-chain (> C24) polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in post-larvae of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and Senegalese sole (Solea senegalensis). Aquaculture, 525 (2020): 735314.

M. Maccari, F. Amat, F. Hontoria and A. Gómez. Laboratory generation of new parthenogenetic lineages supports contagious parthenogenesis in Artemia. PeerJ, 2 (2014): e439.

I. Varó, A. Perini, A. Torreblanca, Y. García, E. Bergami, M.L. Vannuccini and I. Corsi. Time-dependent effects of polystyrene nanoparticles in brine shrimp Artemia franciscana at physiological, biochemical and molecular levels. Science of the Total Environment, 675 (2019): 570–580.