Production Research Group

The Production Research Group brings together scientists working on breeding, genetics and nutrition of aquaculture species.

We combine the use of molecular biology techniques and genomics with whole animal studies of physiology and function and achieve results taking advantage of our strong partnerships with the global aquaculture science and industry community. Our research is organised around two main original scientific themes: stock management strategies and improvement including environmental, genetic and nutritional manipulations, and novel aquafeeds that utilise alternative oil and protein sources as replacements for traditional fish oils and meals.

These encompass fundamental research (e.g. lipid metabolism, chronobiology and environmental programming) translated into applied solutions for enhanced sustainability of the aquaculture sector.

Salmon in sea

Stock management strategies

Our focus is on the development and application of the latest genetic and genomic techniques to improve broodstock management, welfare and performances of existing and new emerging farmed aquatic animals. We work on the control of maturation and puberty, selective breeding, mechanisms of sex differentiation and gender control, sterility and larviculture to develop improved stock management strategies resulting in the production of fish as a controllable, sustainable and profitable resource. The group combines expertise in reproductive physiology, endocrinology, chronobiology, genetic and genomic technologies and bioinformatics to better understand the biological mechanisms underlying major life cycle and commercial traits in farmed aquatic species.

Novel aquafeeds

Our drive is to work with partners to develop more sustainable and efficient fish feeds to meet health needs of consumers in terms of flesh quality, nutritional composition, pollutant contamination, sustainability and traceability. We work on fish as principal sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which play key roles in human nutrition, being important for development of the nervous system, and in the prevention and therapy of various pathological conditions including cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders. Expertise in the group spans lipid biochemistry, feed production and quality assessment.

Key research group activities

All of the group research has a strong international reach. Key research group activities over recent times include the development of innovative sea lice control strategies through the domestication of cleaner fish (both ballan wrasse and lumpsucker); advances in fish sterility to protect wild stocks while boosting productivity; the study and demonstration of nutritional and environmental programming in salmon including the impacts of recirculation on fish robustness; the application of single-cell protein, GM oilseed crops and microalgal products to provide sustainable Omega-3 for aquaculture nutrition; fundamental research on marine invertebrate physiology, ecology, population genetic and aquaculture; and climate and environment resilience of farmed stocks.

Recent and active projects

ROBUSTSMOLT: Impact of Early Life History in Freshwater Recirculation Aquaculture Systems on A. Salmon Robustness and Susceptibility to Disease at Sea. 

AQUALEAP: Innovation in Genetics and Breeding to Advance UK Aquaculture Production.

AQUAIMPACT: Genomic and Nutritional Innovations for Genetically Superior Farmed Fish

NUTRIPROG: Investigating the potential of nutritional programming to improve the utilisation of sustainable feeds in aquaculture

NOSIFISH: Novel Omega-3 Sources in Feeds: Impacts on Salmon Health

REACT-FIRST: Reduced Emission Aquaculture and Chicken Trial For Integrated, Responsible and Sustainable Transformation of CO2 into animal feeds

ARCH UK: Aquaculture Research Collaborative Hub.

KTP Ballan wrasse broodstock project.

Research group staff

Associate Professor Monica Betancor

Dr Matthew Sprague


Prof Brendan McAndrew

Prof Douglas Tocher


Dr Adam Brooker (Research Fellow)

Dr Richard Broughton (Research Fellow)

Mrs Jacquie Ireland (Research Technician)

Dr Stuart McMillan (Research Fellow)

Research group PhDs

Chelsea Broughton

Alexandra Bulgakova

Katie Gaffney

Teresa Grobler

Karla Fernandez Quiroz

Abdalla Salah

Mette Tollervey

Jessica di Toro