The Aquaculture team's mass meeting

Students and staff convened for a multi-group gathering to discuss our ongoing projects.


In March, Tim Bean, Diego Robledo, and Dan Macqueen brought their colleagues together for a teamwide meeting in the Roslin Institute’s main auditorium. While our work groups regularly collaborate and overlap with one another across a bevy of ongoing projects and meetings, the group leaders wanted to make sure everyone in the aquaculture team had the opportunity to convene and speak about their ongoing projects. The meeting included three presentations (and discussions) on some of our ongoing work at the Roslin Institute.

The first presentation was given by Oliver Eve (Macqueen lab) and provided the rest of the Aquaculture team with an overview of his PhD project, now in its second year. Oliver spoke about how he is using long-read RNAseq in Atlantic salmon, with a goal to capture transcript diversity expressed during embryogenesis. He spoke about his use of Oxford nanopore sequencing and his aim to understand how a whole genome duplication event in salmonid evolution has impacted the evolution of RNA isoform expression, as well as to understand RNA isoforms that are differentially expressed at key developmental landmarks. Discussion followed on Oliver’s work including technical questions about the process itself, and also dealt with how to obtain and best use sample material for testing—information which is useful for visitors and students as well as postdoctoral researchers. Oliver also mentioned how his work built off collaborative efforts from colleagues including Yehwa Jin and Diego Perojil Morata.

Group Leader Tim Bean’s presentation was based on his recent presentation in San Diego at the World Aquaculture Society conveying work by Tim Regan. Tim spoke about how identifying bivalve gene families can help researchers learn their evolutionary history (as bivalves comprise an incredibly long and diverse list of species) and how such efforts are valuable to the industry, as bivalves alone make up 20% of global aquaculture production. Tim related how orthologous groups (genes with a common ancestor) are useful in determining expansion events in history; the expansions and shrinkages in an orthogroup give us a better idea of how evolutionary differentiation and even speciation can occur. In one ongoing project, Tim and colleagues have studied the proteome sequences from 32 different mollusc species; sharing the discussions from San Diego with the wider team prompted further conversation about the research methods involved.

The Roslin Institute, as seen on a bright day in March 2022.

Ophélie Gervais spoke to the Aquaculture team about her own presentation in San Diego, which focused upon infectious salmon anaemia virus (ISAV) and its impact on aquaculture. She and colleagues at Roslin previously took tissue samples from the heart, kidney, gills, and spleen of 194 families of salmon for RNASeq amidst a disease challenge, and were able to determine that, among those tested, antiviral response was less striking than anticipated—but still significant enough for Ophélie and her colleagues to identify a good candidate gene. Ophélie provided examples from the results and presented the team’s conclusion: that ISAV response is varied and depends on tissue, with single-cell RNASeq giving better insight into both how this occurs across families and which genes may be able to best combat infection.  

These presentations and the conversations surrounding them allowed the Aquaculture team better visibility on one another’s work. Besides the scientific methods and findings, these presentations revealed the degree to which interconnectedness already defines our efforts—with one colleague presenting on behalf of another, and all presenters mentioning how their efforts are collaborative and benefited by the efforts of their teammates. The research we undertake is highly engrossing and can develop autonomously for long periods of time, so opportunities to share and receive input such as these are invaluable. The chance to discuss findings teamwide was well-received, with those present suggesting a follow-up meeting and a social gathering to match in the summertime.