Steven Leadbeater

Image Leadbeater, Steven
Aquatic Sciences Biologist

Aquatic animal health research (diseases, parasites and biology) 

Current research and/or projects

I lead a small team that conducts research related to aquatic animal disease and parasite impacts and developing potential methods for mitigation.  This research is conducted at the Level III St. Andrews Biological Station biocontainment facility in which an array of disease agents impacting aquatic animals (non-mammalian) can be studied.

Recently, the primary focus has been the  study of Atlantic salmon diseases, such as infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) and bacterial kidney disease (BKD), and the impacts of sea lice, a crustacean parasite, on the species.  

Much of the current work is collaborative with industry and university to examine the  potential for captive reared Atlantic salmon to develop family related resistance to disease.  We are seeking to determine if there are differences in familial ability to  resist BKD and ISAV as well as sea lice infection. In another project, the potential to improve lumpfish cleaning behaviour is being studied.  These projects  will allow industry to pursue genetic based programs to selectively breed to enhance traits to improve resistance to disease and sea lice. This will ultimately improve the sustainability of Atlantic salmon aquaculture.

The team also collaborates with other Fisheries and Oceans Canada’s scientists such as Fish Health Lab in Moncton.  In this work, our group supports live animal trials to gain a better understanding of emergent and established pathogens such as ISAV, Piscine orthoreovirus (PRV) as they relate to both wild and farmed North American Atlantic salmon. Farming salmon raises questions about impacts on wild stocks that need to be studied. Current work in this area is focused on understanding the sub-lethal effects of these diseases. If a wild fish is exposed to disease but does not die, are there impacts on the   One graduate student project is on the impacts of oxygen consumption with a low level infection. This might be an indicator of their ability to capture prey, escape, grow and produce viable offspring for wild salmon.  To accomplish this we have created research teams that involve animal physiologists, virologists both within and outside of DFO.

Research and/or project statements

ACRPD 19-M-02. Assessing heritable variation in biological control of the salmon louse by cleaner fish (Lumpfish - Cyclopterus lumpus) and cooperative behaviour by their client, Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar).

ACRDP 18-M-01. Validation of genomic selection among Atlantic salmon for resistance to infection by sea lice (Lepeoptheirus salmonis) and concomitant susceptibility to infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV).

Sub-leathal impacts of infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) on wild salmon fitness (in support of PARR research with the Gulf-DFO region).

Education and awards

M.Sc. Biology, University of New Brunswick in Saint John, 2008

B.Sc. Biology, University of New Brunswick in Saint John, 1995

Key publications

Dussault, FM, Ang, KP, Elliott, JAK, et al. Mapping quantitative trait loci for infectious salmon anaemia resistance in a North American strain of Atlantic salmon. Aquac Res. 2020; 51: 80– 90.

LeBlanc, F., Leadbeater, S., Laflamme, M., Gagné, N. (2018) In vivo virulence and genomic comparison of infectious Salmon Anaemia Virus isolates from Atlantic Canada  Journal of Fish Diseases.

Wade, J and Leadbeater, S. (2018) Haddock Culture Manual and Lessons Learned Bulletin of the Aquaculture Association of Canada Bulletin de l’Association Aquacole du Canada (2018-1)

Rochus, C.M., Holborn, M.K., Ang, K.P.,  Elliott, J.A.K ., Glebe, B.D., Leadbeater, S., Tosh, J.J., Boulding, E.G. (2018) Genome‐wide association analysis of salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) resistance in a North American Atlantic salmon population. Aquaculture Research 49(3):1329-1338

Pedersen, S., Liu, L., Glebe, B., Leadbeater, S., Lien,S., Boulding, E.G. (2018) Mapping of quantitative trait loci associated with size, shape, and parr mark traits using first- and second-generation backcrosses between European and North American Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). Genome, 2018, 61:33-42,

Llewellyn, M.S., Leadbeater, S., Garcia,C.,  Sylvain, F-E.,  Custodio, M., Ang, K.P., Powell, F., Carvalho, G.R., Creer, S.,  Elliot, J.A.K. & N. Derome (2017) Parasitism perturbs the mucosal microbiome of Atlantic Salmon. Scientific Reports volume 7, Article number: 43465

LeBlanc, F., Leadbeater, S., Laflamme, M., Gagné, N. (2016) RNA-Seq analysis in gills of atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) infected with newly identified ISAV strains in the atlantic Canada region. Fish & Shellfish Immunology 53:78-79  DOI:10.1016/j.fsi.2016.03.102

Pedersen, S., Berg, P.R., Culling, M., Danzmann, R.G., Glebe, B., Leadbeater, S., Lien, S., Moen, T., Vandersteen, W., Boulding, E.G. (2013) Quantitative Trait Loci for precocious male maturation, early smoltification, and adult maturation in double-backcrossed transAtlantic salmon. Aquaculture 410-411.  164-171.

M. LaFlamme, F. LeBlanc, J.R. Arseneau, S. Leadbeater, B. Glebe, N. Gagné, (2013)Transcriptional response of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) after primary versus secondary exposure to infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV), Fish & Shellfish Immunology, Volume 34, Issue 6, June 2013, Page 1659.

F. LeBlanc, F., Arseneau, J.R., Leadbeater, S., Glebe, B., Laflamme, M., Gagné, N. (2012) Transcriptional response of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) after primary versus secondary exposure to infectious salmon anemia virus (ISAV). Molecular Immunology. 51(2) 197-209.

Research facility

125 Marine Science Drive
St. Andrews, NB E5B 0E4