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

   School of Biological Sciences

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  Prof S Martin, Prof Dan Macqueen  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


Professor Samuel Martin (University of Aberdeen)

Professor Dan Macqueen (University of Edinburgh)

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 our recent results indicate 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 in vivo (Atlantic salmon) and in vitro (salmon cell culture) using state of the art gene editing approaches (CRISPR/cas9) to define how energy allocation is regulated by the IGF system 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, and EU H2020 project AQUAFAANG, ), where both 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 at University of Aberdeen and Prof Macqueen at Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh. The student will be based within the “Scottish Fish Immunology Research Centre” at Aberdeen and have regular visits to the partner institute at Roslin. The student will have the opportunity for additional training at the international partner labs for example, INRAE, France.

Application Procedure:

Please send your completed EASTBIO application form, along with academic transcripts to Alison McLeod at [Email Address Removed]. Two references should be provided by the deadline using the EASTBIO reference form. Please advise your referees to return the reference form to [Email Address Removed].

Funding Notes

This 4 year PhD project is part of a competition funded by EASTBIO BBSRC Doctoral Training Partnership This opportunity is open to UK and International students and provides funding to cover stipend and UK level tuition (limited funding is available to provide international tuition fees). Please refer to UKRI website and Annex B of the UKRI Training Grant Terms and Conditions for full eligibility criteria.

Candidates should have (or expect to achieve) a minimum of a 2:1 UK Honours degree, or the equivalent qualifications gained outside the UK, in a relevant subject.


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. Houston, R.D., Bean, T.P., Macqueen, D.J., Gundappa, M.K., Jin, Y.H., Jenkins, T.L., Selly, S.L.C., Martin, S.A.M., Stevens, J.R., Santos, E.M., Davie, A., Robledo, D. 2020. Harnessing genomics to fast-track genetic improvement in aquaculture. Nature Reviews Genetics. 21: 389 – 409.
4. Dehler, C.E., Lester, K., Della Pelle, G., Jouneau, L., Houel, A., Collins, C., Dovgan, T., Machat, R., Zou, J., Boudinot, P., Martin, S.A.M., Collet, B. 2019. Viral resistance and IFN signaling in STAT2 knockout fish cells. Journal of Immunology. 203: 465 – 475
5. Król, E., Noguera, P., Shaw, S., Costelloe, E., Gajardo, K., Valdenegro, V., Bickerdike, R., Douglas, A., Martin, S.A.M. 2020. Integration of Transcriptome, Gross Morphology and Histopathology in the Gill of Sea Farmed Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar): Lessons From Multi-Site Sampling. Frontiers in Genetics. 11: 610
6. Garcia de la Serrana D., Macqueen D.J. 2018. Insulin-Like Growth Factor-Binding Proteins of Teleost Fishes. Frontiers in Endocrinology (Lausanne). 9:80.
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