The Bloomsbury Colleges | PhD Studentships | Studentships 2013 | Sustainability of Aquaculture in the Face of Climate Change
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Sustainability of Aquaculture in the Face of Climate Change

Principal Supervisor: Dr Rachel A Lawrence (RVC)

Co-Supervisors: Professor Brendan Wren (LSHTM) and Dr Imelda McGonnell (RVC)

Over a third of the world's population is reliant on fish as their primary source of protein and the aquaculture industry provides nearly 20% of globally consumed animal protein. Survival of farmed fish is hampered by high mortality rates and strategies to control pathogens and stimulate immune responses are used to improve reduction and food security.

Efficiency of fish production is likely to diminish with climate change. Increasing global temperatures will have a profound effect on the susceptibility of fish to infection and will elevate the importance of food security concerning aquaculture. Indeed studies have shown that some teleosts have increased mortality to bacterial infections concurrent with increases in water temperature. However the mechanisms of this increased susceptibility are unknown.

This project addresses this problem of increased disease susceptibility in fish due to climate change, and poses the question of whether increased temperature alters distinct immune pathways necessary for resistance to infection in telosts.

Zebrafish are a good model for host-pathogen interactions in fish, as in common with most economically important farmed fish, they are teleosts and they are susceptible to several bacterial infections of global importance in aquaculture. Laboratory aquaria allow easy and reproducible control of water temperature. Furthermore the full genome of zebrafish has been elucidated, allowing changes in immune gene expression with temperature to be investigated by microarray. The critical significance of candidate genes will then be verified using knockdown or mutant fish to confirm that these specific immune components altered by temperature are necessary for immune function.

This project will use the zebrafish (Danio rerio) - Streptococcus iniae infection model to determine alterations in disease susceptibility and immune gene expression in response to increased temperature.

Candidate Requirements

Talented and motivated students passionate about doing research are encouraged to apply. Applicants should hold or expect to gain a first/upper second class honours degree or equivalent and should ideally have research experience (either as part of or outside of a university degree course).

Both the RVC and LSHTM are part of London University's Bloomsbury College Consortium which is one of the world's leading initiatives in international development. These colleges are research-intensive and undergraduate education, postgraduate masters and PhD training, research, innovation and community engagement form a dynamic continuum of activity.

Key References

Marcogliese DJ. Rev Sci TEch. 2008 27: 467-84.

Karvonen et al. Int J Parasitol. 2010 40:1483-8.

Phelps et al. Curr Protoc Microbiol. 2009 Chapter 9: Unit 9D.

Locke et al. PLoS ONE. 2008; 3:e2824.

Further details about the project may be obtained from:

Principal supervisor: Rachel Lawrence,,

Co-supervisors: Brendan Wren,,

Imelda McGonnel,,

Further information about PhDs at the RVC is available from:

Application forms and details about how to apply are available from:


Address: Graduate School, RVC, Royal College Street, London NW1 0TU, tel: +44 (0)20 7468 5060, email:

Application requirements:

1. A CV

2. A personal statement explaining why you would like to undertake this particular project

3. A copy of your degree certificate(s)

4. A transcript of your degree(s) - this must be a certified translation if the original was not issued in English

5. Two confidential references

Closing date for applications is noon on the 11th February 2013