Dr Nick Wade

Group Leader in Aquaculture


Functional molecular biologist and biochemist with a focus on improving aquaculture production and nutrition. Broad range of research experience across tropical and temperate cultured aquaculture species. Developed industrial scale phenotypic challenges for application within prawn selective breeding programs, and defined the functional molecular responses to nutrition and feeding, known as nutrigenomics. Carotenoid pigment expert in prawns and fish, with strong interests in the use of omics tools to understand mechanisms that control commercially relevant traits in aquaculture. Experienced mentor who derives great satisfaction from the achievements of others and creating environments in which others succeed.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?


Current PhD students supervised

Karl Milton, PhD.  (secondary)

Past PhD students supervised

Sarah Berry, PhD. Physiological and transcriptomic responses to stress in the black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon. James Cook University (primary) graduated Oct 2021

Emily Courtot, MSc. Algal carotenoids as pigments for salmonids. Shanghai Ocean University (secondary) graduated April 2021

Tansyn Noble, PhD. Selective breeding for tolerance to gill-associated virus in the black tiger shrimp Penaeus monodon. James Cook University (secondary) graduated March 2019

Jake Goodall, PhD. Improving the reproductive performance of domesticated giant tiger shrimp, Penaeus monodon. University of Queensland (primary) graduated 2016

Research summary

We are trying to understand how aquatic animals respond to challenges such as disease and environmental stressors, and the molecular regulation of those pathways to make them more resilient to those challenges. The ways in which fish and prawns respond to stressors might be shared with other animals, while many others will be unique and it’s understanding those mechanisms, and understanding how these amazing creatures respond and thrive in a dynamic marine environment, that I’m passionate about.

Current research interests

My work involves understanding the functional regulation of traits such as growth, colouration or reproduction, and particularly how they are influenced by nutrition. For example, crustacean colour is produced by a unique interaction between a carotenoid which is only available through their diets and a protein only found in crustaceans that binds to it that produces all the intricate colours and patterns.

Knowledge exchange

What’s really exciting about this work is that the application of transformative technologies such as single cell RNAseq, proteomics and metabolomics can have real world impact through aquaculture, addressing major issues of sustainability, food production and animal welfare.