£5.1 million UKRI funding for UK aquaculture research and innovation

19 November 2018

Vaccines made using algae are being developed to protect fish from disease and help protect the UK's aquaculture industry. The project is one of 12 to receive a total of £5·1 million to fund further research to address challenges for aquaculture.

Other projects include studying genetics and breeding patterns, looking at how shellfish can be more sustainable, immunising trout against kidney disease, and examining how robust salmon are and how susceptible to disease they are at sea.

The UK Aquaculture Initiative is a joint Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and NERC project to support high-quality, innovative research and address strategic challenges facing UK aquaculture. This investment represents a total of £5·1 million, along with contributions from co-funders the Agri-Food & Biosciences Institute (AFBI) and the Centre for Environments, Fisheries & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS), and a range of industry partners who will collaborate with academic researchers on the projects.

Karen Lewis, BBSRC Executive Director, Capability & Innovation, said:

Aquaculture is a key food production sector for the UK. These projects will improve our understanding of the challenges facing aquaculture production. Working together with industry partners, UK researchers will help to address these challenges and contribute to developing a healthy, safe and sustainable aquaculture system which will deliver societal and economic benefit for the UK.

The 12 new projects are:

  • AquaLeap: Innovation in genetics and breeding to advance UK aquaculture production
    Ross Houston, University of Edinburgh

  • Safe and sustainable shellfish: Introducing local testing and management solutions
    Christine Edwards, The Robert Gordon University

  • ROBUST-SMOLT impact of early life history in freshwater recirculation aquaculture systems on Atlantic salmon robustness and susceptibility to disease at sea
    Herve Migaud, University of Stirling

  • Evaluating the environmental conditions required for the development of offshore aquaculture
    Keith Davidson, Scottish Association For Marine Science

  • Passive and active immunisation against novel vaccine targets to protect trout against proliferative kidney disease (PKD).
    Chris Secombes, University of Aberdeen

  • Binder seeding to improve the economic case of UK macroalgal cultivation (Bindweed)
    Adam Hughes, Scottish Association For Marine Science

  • Paper-based platform for on site, rapid, and multiplexed DNA-based pathogen detection in aquaculture
    Julien Reboud, University of Glasgow

  • PhytoMOPS: Phytoplankton morphology and optical properties sensor
    Allison Schaap, National Oceanography Centre

  • The development of diagnostic techniques to assess anaemia in aquaculture reared Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar)
    Brian Quinn, University of the West of Scotland

  • Algal vaccines for aquaculture
    Brenda Parker, University College London

  • Identifying targets for control of Ichthyophthirius multifiliis - A major cause of disease in aquaculture
    Mark van der Giezen, University of Exeter

  • NOSy - Magnetic and wireless sensor technology for improving profit, biosecurity and carbon footprint of regional oyster production
    Thomas Cameron, University of Essex

Further information

Mary Goodchild
External Communications Manager
01793 411939
07710 147485


1. NERC is the UK's main funder of environmental science. Our work covers the full range of atmospheric, Earth, biological, terrestrial and aquatic science, from the deep oceans to the upper atmosphere and from the poles to the equator. We coordinate some of the world's most exciting research projects tackling major environmental issues. NERC is part of UK Research & Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.