From Roslin to Guernsey

Postdoctoral Research Fellow Tim Regan remarks on his recent research mission.


One of the United Kingdom’s two oyster hatcheries is located on Guernsey, one of the Channel Islands. The hatchery is able to produce spat (this being the term for oyster larvae which have successfully attached to a surface, such as a shell, on which they can grow) without risking contamination by Ostreid Herpesvirus 1 (OsHV-1).

OsHV-1 can devastate oyster beds when allowed purchase within a farmed or wild population; protection from the virus is a distinct advantage for Guernsey Sea Farms (GSF), and helps it supply spat to UK oyster farmers from the English Channel.

In November, Tim Regan—a postdoctoral researcher working closely with Group Leader Tim Bean—visited GSF as the first step in a new project. “We are investigating how microbial ecology present in a working hatchery affects oyster larval development,” Tim reports. “Over the week I spent at GSF, I was shown how the hatchery operated, and together with their staff, designed an appropriate sampling regime to best capture variations in microbial ecology over time at various points throughout the hatchery.”

The sampling regime designed by Tim and the GSF team covers the hatchery’s larval growth tanks, algal feed, and the water itself. “In the coming months, we aim to sequence the DNA obtained from each of these points and correlate the variations in microbial communities to overall performance recorded by the hatchery,” Tim explains.

This expedition will further the research undertaken by Tim and his colleagues. The whole team congratulates Tim on his trip and looks forward, with great interest, to this project’s development.