Aquaculture

Nick Wade [GL]

Group Leader

Nick Wade

My work involves understanding the functional regulation of traits such as growth, colouration or reproduction, and particularly how they are influenced by nutrition. We are also 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.

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.

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.

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.

Current research

My work involves understanding the functional regulation of traits such as growth, colouration or reproduction, and particularly how they are influenced by nutrition. We are also 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.

My University of Edinburgh profile

My University of Edinburgh research profile

My ORCID profile

Favourite aquaculture species

Crustaceans for sure, prawns (they should not be called shrimp!) and lobsters. A soft spot for some molluscs, but don’t tell my wife.

Background

I have a diverse background that began applying molecular techniques across terrestrial livestock, including developing DNA sex markers for horses and camels. After significantly expanding my molecular skills investigating intracellular trafficking mechanisms involved in diabetes, it wasn’t until my PhD that I had the chance to work in marine biology and aquaculture, from which a passion for invertebrate biology and evolution emerged. After my PhD I had an amazing experience working in Switzerland on functional genetics of vision (retinitis pigmentosa). But I was lured back to Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, where I continued to work on crustacean colour integrating genetics, environment and nutrition to optimise colour in prawns and nutrient utilisation in Australia’s iconic fish, barramundi. A wealth of aquaculture opportunities emerged through several large projects on prawns, such as a novel prawn feed ingredient Novacq, the ARC Hub for Advanced Prawn Genomics developing genomic tools, industrial scale phenotyping and exploring disease and stress tolerance mechanisms. Synergistic research developed in fish, such as dietary alternatives for pigmentation and finding dietary solutions to the effects of thermal stress in Atlantic salmon.

2023 – present: Group Leader in Aquaculture Genetics, Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh

2019 – 2023:     Senior Research Scientist, CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Brisbane, Australia

2015 – 2020:     Adjunct Senior Lecturer, James Cook University

2009 – 2019:     Research Scientist, CSIRO Agriculture and Food, Brisbane, Australia

2006 – 2009:     Premier Assistant, University of Lausanne, Switzerland

2005:                   Fisheries Biologist, QDPI Bribie Island Research Centre, Australia

2001 – 2005:     PhD, The University of Queensland. Crustacean shell colour formation and the ‘white’ phase of the western rock lobster, Panulirus cygnus

1996 – 2001:     Research Assistant, University of Queensland, Australia

1995:                   Bachelor of Science (Honours), The University of Queensland, Australia

1990 – 1993:     Bachelor of Science, The University of Queensland, Australia.

 

Interests, hopes and dreams

I love running, craft beer and Australian Rules football, but currently adjusting to a new way of life in Scotland. I hope to become a valued member of the UK and global aquaculture research community and dream of one day being warm again.

Science has been a wonderful and diverse career, filled with meeting amazing people and visiting wonderful places. It is these things on which I thrive and for which I am always grateful.