The development of a biological control health management strategy to prevent white leg disease (WLD) in the tropical rock lobster (TRL) Panulirus ornatus

Closing Date

29th October 2021

The Research Project

Despite relatively few diseases having been reported in the culture of tropical rock lobster (TRL) one colloquially termed white leg disease (WLD) has emerged as a recurring and potentially devastating health problem often resulting in significant losses of larval TRL. Research at IMAS has identified the aetiological agent of WLD as Aquimarina sp. TRL1 while health strategies to mitigate the threat posed by WLD are yet to be developed.

Biosecurity is an essential aspect of this emerging aquaculture industry. To ensure the sustainability of lobster aquaculture the use of living organisms or natural substances that prevent or reduce damage caused by harmful organisms otherwise known as biological control or biocontrol is preferred to traditional antibiotic treatment and potentially hazardous chemicals. Bacteriophages are viruses that only infect bacteria and are one of the most promising biocontrol agents. Predatory bacteria such as Bdellovibrio and like organisms (BALOs) are Gram-negative, obligate predators of other Gram-negative bacteria and like phages are potential biocontrol agents.  Research into biocontrol to treat and or prevent WLD will form the basis of a PhD project and focus on the use of bacteriophages, and predatory bacteria (BALOs) as a health management strategy to prevent WLD.


Essential Skills:

  • Graduates with a strong academic record (e.g. BSc Hons, MSc or equivalent qualifications demonstrated by publication record) in aquaculture, ecology, marine biology, molecular biology and zoology or similar

Desirable Skills:

  • Research experience or undergraduate training in aquaculture, physiology, nutrition, aquatic health and/or molecular biology (project specific)
  • Demonstrated experience in aquaculture growth or feeding experiments and laboratory analytical analysis
  • Keen interest in and desire for a career in aquaculture and/or marine ecology

Please check the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Application Process

Applicants who require more information or are interested in this specific project should first contact the supervisor, A/Prof Quinn Fitzgibbon.

Information and guidance on the application process can be found here.

To submit an application for this project, click here.