Dynamic interactions between health and growth in salmon: The role of insulin like factor binding proteins

Supervisors: Professor Sam Martin, Prof Ross Houston

Project description:

Aquaculture is the fastest growing food sector globally and during 2016 global consumption of farmed fish and shellfish exceeded that of wild caught fish.  In UK Atlantic salmon aquaculture is worth >£1 Billion to the economy, however to improve sustainability and expansion two key challenges are improved fish growth and fish health.  These two processes do not act independently and recent results from our lab has shown that the insulin like growth factor pathway (specifically the IGF binding proteins) may play a key role in cross talk between these two systems. This PhD will examine gene function, both invivo (Atlantic salmon) and invitro (salmon cell culture) using state of the art genes editing approaches (CRISPR/cas9) to define how energy allocation is allocated during immune stimulation. 

The project is highly relevant for improving farmed fish production and also links with the international consortium to annotate the salmon genome (Functional Annotation of All salmonid Genomes, FAASG), where all supervisors and partners are key members.  An international partner in France will enhance the studentship by assisting with aspects of cell culture and immune function.

The project will be supervised by Prof Martin and Dr Macqueen at University of Aberdeen and prof Houston at Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. Aberdeen has recently invested in the “International centre for Aquaculture research and Development (ICARD) that encompasses the key aquaculture and fish biology groups at Aberdeen with major focus on fish health, physiology and genomics.  The student will work closely with the Aberdeen Centre for Genome Enabled Biology and Medicine.  The student will have the opportunity for training at the international partner labs in INRA, France.

Key References related to the project:

  1. Alzaid A, Castro R, Wang T, Secombes CJ, Boudinot P, Macqueen DJ, Martin SAM. 2016 Cross-talk between growth and immunity: coupling of the insulin-like growth factor axis to conserved cytokine pathways in rainbow trout. Endocrinology 157: 1942-1955
  2. Dehler CE, Boudinot P, Martin SAM, Collet B 2016 Development of an efficient genome editing method by CRISPR/Cas9 in a fish cell line.Marine Biotechnology 18, 449-452
  3. Macqueen DJ …Houston RD ……Martin SAM… (+co authors) 2017 Functional Annotation of All Salmonid Genomes (FAASG): an international initiative supporting future salmonid research, conservation and aquaculture.BMC Genomics 18:484