2014-present Professor, Institute of Biological and Environmental Sciences (IBES)
2012-2014 Reader, IBES, University of Aberdeen
2010-2012 Senior lecturer, IBES, University of Aberdeen
2007-2010 Lecturer IBES, University of Aberdeen
1999- 2007 Research Fellow, School of Biological Sciences, University of Aberdeen
1996-1999 Senior Research Officer, National Diagnostics Centre, NUI, Galway, Ireland
1993-1996 Postdoctoral RA, Department of Veterinary Parasitology, University of Glasgow
PhD Queens University Belfast 1993
BSc (Hons) Queens University Belfast 1989
1. Genomics in Aquaculture
2. Atlantic salmon transcriptomics
3. Nutrigenomics in farmed fish
4. Fish health and immunology
5. Life history stratagies and evolutionary adaptations in salmon
My research focuses on the control of physiological processes in fish at a molecular level. This is principally related to nutrition, health and life histories in salmonid fish. The production of aquacultured fish is one of the fastest growing global food producing industries and as such it is imperative that we understand how health and growth in fish is controlled. Within Scotland the Atlantic salmon industry is worth >£800M to the Scottish economy producing >150,000 tons of salmon per annum with a predicted increase to 300,000 tons by 2020 to exploit the Asian market. Globally now ~50% all consumed fish is reared in aquaculture. My group uses a variety of genomcs approaches to address key tarits relating to improving the performance of fish in culture.
For wild salmonids I have a long term interest in the parr smolt transformation and the underlying regulation that controls this physiological process that controls both the migratory behaviour and the ability to osmoregulate in the marine environment.
2019-2022 NOSIFISH: Novel Omega-3 Sources in Feeds and Impacts on Salmon Health BBSRC Responsive mode BB/S005919/1
2019-2021 NUTRIPROG (IPA). Investigating the potential of nutritional programming to improve the utilisation of sustainable feeds in aquaculture. With University of Strirling BBSRC Responsive mode
2019-2022: Feed Additives for Improved Physiological and Health Parameters in Fish. PhD studentship funded by Newton-Mosharafa Fund (UK- Egypt)
2019-2023: Photoperiod and immune function, how critical life cycle events in salmon impact on disease response and post smolt performance. PhD studentship funded by SAIC (industrial partner Scottish Sea Farms)
2019-2023 ROBUST-SMOLT: Impact of early life history in freshwater Recirculation Aquaculture Systems on Atlantic salmon robustness and susceptibility to disease at sea. Consortium grant lead by University of Stirling BBSRC BB/S004270/1
2019-2023 AQUALEAP: Innovation in Genetics and Breeding to Advance UK Aquaculture Production. Consortium grant lead by Edinburgh. BBSRC BB/S004181/1
2018-2022: Functional feeds and gill health. PhD studentship with BioMar
2018-2021 Improving resistance to infectious salmon anaemia using genome editing: Novel approaches to tackling viral disease in aquaculture (PI Prof Ross Houston, Roslin Institute) BBSRC BB/R008612/1 responsive mode
2017-2019 Clinical nutrition and the treatment of Atlantic salmon gill diseases. Funded by Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre, (with BioMar and Scottish Sea farms).
2017-2019 Vaccines for chronic viral pathogens in salmon- generation of interferon attenuated cell lines. BBSRC /NERC Aquaculture Innovation
2017-2020 Functional annotation of the Atlantic salmon genome, translation to improved health and performance for Aquaculture (Partnering award with Canada) BBSRC
2017-2021 Gut leucocytes as a screen for the health impact of functional feeds. PhD studenship with Skretting (With Prof Secombes)
2017 Innovation for Health and Robustness in Aquculture in NE India. NERC_BBSRC Innovation ODA scoping award
2017-2021 UK Aquaculture Initiative Network. Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub -UK (ARCH-UK). NERC / BBSRC Aquaculture network.
2016-2018 Mucosal health and microbiota during sea lice parasitism: effect of oral delivery of immunomodulants. Newton Fund RCUK-CONICYT (Coordinated by Dr Dan Merrifield University of Plymouth).
2015-2017 Gut health and immune function: the emerging role of gut microbiota in sustainable aquaculture. BBSRC / NERC aquaculture program (with Stirling University, Plymouth University and Royal Veterinary College, BioMar as industrial partner).
2015-2017. Epigenetic management of stress and disease resistance in Atlantic salmon. BBSRC / NERC aquaculture program. (Coordinated by Prof Carlos Garcia de Leaniz, University of Swansea)
2015-2019 Nutrigenomic approaches for development of sustainable fish feeds. PhD studentship. Funded from Ministry of Education, Malaysia.
2015-2019 The role of functional amino acids as regulators of metabolic pathways in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and Rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). (Industrial PhD studentship CLSM & BioMar).
2015-2019 Light & Salt – thyroid hormone deiodinase paralogs and the evolution of complex life-history strategy. Research Council of Norway (International partner led by Prof. David Hazlerigg, University of Tromso, Norway).
2015–2019 Characterization & exploitation of copy number variation in Atlantic salmon. BBSRC industrial CASE PhD studentship, Lead Dr Dan Macqueen.
2013-2017 Gut health and nutrition in Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar). BBSRC EastBio PhD studentship
2013-2017 (Norwegian Research Council) Salmon health and immune function during parr smolt transformation. (Coordinated by Dr Sonal Patel, Bergen, Norway)
2013-2016 The Molecular Interactions between Growth and Health Status in Salmonid Fish. PhD studentship (Kuwait University sponsor)
2011-2016 Development of protein-rich and starch-rich fractions from faba beans for salmon and terrestrial animal production respectively. Technology Strategy Board, UK. (Coordinated by Dr Crampton, EWOS)
2013 MASTS visiting Fellow (Dr E Mente). Gene expression and health relating to organic feeds in aquaculture
2011-2014 Nutritional requirements during viral induced muscle wasting in Atlantic salmon (Industrial PhD studentship CLSM & BioMar)
2011-2014 Selenium as an antiviral agent in farmed fish (Industrial PhD studentship with Alltech, with Prof Secombes and Dr Wang)
2010-2014 Application of nutrigenomics to develop new diets that reduce lice burden in Atlantic salmon (With Dr A Bowman & Dr JMO Fernandes, Bodo University College, Norway) Industrial PhD studentship with BioMar
2010-2014 Farm animal proteomics. EU COST, Coordinated Prof D. Eckersall, University of Glasgow, UK
2010-2014 The physiological and genomic basis to the timing of life history transitions in Atlantic salmon. BBSRC (with Prof Hazlerigg)
2008-2011: Evolutionary dynamics of major histocompatibility genes in Arctic charr. NERC (with Prof Rene Stet and Dr W.C. Jordan, IOZ London)
2009-2013: LIFECYCLES: Building a biological knowledge-base on fish lifecycles for competitive, sustainable European aquaculture. Coordinated Prof T. Bjornsson, University of Gotenburg, Sweden, CoPI with Prof Secombes
2009-2012: A systems biology based approach to functionally annotate and analyse the genome of the fish pathogenic oomycete Saprolegnia parasitica. BBSRC (with Prof Secombes & Dr P. Van West)
2008-2011: Molecular basis of improved feed quality for aquaculture. Industrial PhD studentship with BioMar
2009-2010: Modulation of muscle atrophy gene expression in Atlantic salmon following an inflammatory response. Royal Society
2009-2012: The molecular basis endocrine and immune modulation of protein metabolism in salmonid fish, a model for ectothermic animals. BBSRC studentship.
2009-2010: Ubiquitin E3 ligases as controllers of protein wastage in fish. CLSM Pump priming
2009: Immune control of energy reallocation in fish (with Dr S Bird). British Society of Animal Science/Genesis Faraday 2009
1st year Introduction to Biological Sciences (BI1008)
1st year Diversity of life 1, (BI1012)
1st year Diversity of life 2, (BI1512, Course Coordinator)
3rd year Aquatic Biology, Conservation and Exploitation (ZO3809)
3rd year Skills, Bioinformatics unit (BI3010)
4th year Sustainable Aquaculture (ZO4811, Course Coordinator)
4th year Grant Writing for MSci degree programme (BI4015, Course coordinator)
MSc Applied Marine and Fisheries Ecology, Aquaculture (ZI5505, Unit Coordinator)
MSci Degree programme coordinator
Outreach to Schools: "Trout in the Classroom". I teach about ecology and fish in the river Don by growing fish from eggs to fry in the classroom. (Kemnay Academy 2008, Inverurie Academy 2009, Strathburn School 2010).
- Further Info
Scottish Excetutive Ministerial Advisory Group for Aquaculture
MASTS: Productive seas/ aquaculture forum member
Coordinator for "New technologies in fish nutrition" European Aquaculture Technology Implementation Platform
Editorial Board Member : Journal of Aquaculture Research and Development
Board of Directors, River Don Trust
Program leader Integrative and Environmental Physiology
Mentor for new lecturer staff members
Degree program coordinator MSci Biology
Teaching Committee (SBS)
Molecular basis of improved feed quality for aquaculture
The replacement of fish meal and fish oils using vegetable proteins and vegetable oils is hampered by "antinutritional factors" that can be co purified, leading to metabolic dysfunction in the fish. This results in undesirable affects including reduced digestibility, reduced food conversion, gut inflammation, altered immune function and reduction in growth. This project will examine the resulting gene expression modifications in fish fed alternate diets, and help identify key molecular markers which will assist in the selection of new diets regarding performance and health of the fish. Student: Luca Tacchi.
Evolutionary dynamics of major histocompatibility genes in Arctic charr,
Arctic charr (Savelinus alpinus), in common with many salmonid species, show great variability within and across localities. A number of morphotypes of charr coexist in various freshwater systems and differ in characteristics such as body size and spawning coloration, external and internal morphology and parasite fauna. Differences in parasite faunas are likely to create differences in the types of natural selection experienced by different morphs and subsequent differentiation at loci involved in the immune response. The highly polymorphic major histocompatibility (MH) genes are likely targets for such selection. MH class I and class II molecules are instrumental in eliciting an immune response, which results in elimination or control of the pathogen. We will isolate and characterize the MH class I and class II genes from Arctic charr and use the cDNA sequence information to genotype charr populations from different localities.