Benchmarking Atlantic Salmon Performance

Benchmarking Tasmanian Atlantic salmon performance to test translation of research from experimental to commercial systems

Degree type

PhD

Closing date

18 July 2022

Campus

Hobart

Citizenship requirement

Domestic/International

About the research project

Tasmania is increasingly impacted by climate change and ahead of global trends 1,2 which poses a risk to the Tasmanian Atlantic salmon industry as well as the global industry.  Climate change will impact on two critical environmental factors on which Atlantic salmon, and fish in general, rely on to survive and perform, temperature and dissolved oxygen 2,3. The main impact will consist of an increased frequency of both short- and long-term fluctuations in these two factors which will likely exceed both the optimal physiological range and the tolerance limit of the species 3–6.

Therefore, given the need to further expand our knowledge on the effect of both temperature and dissolved oxygen on Atlantic salmon, in particular under Tasmanian conditions, and given the value of the local industry for Australia sustainable seafood production, the research planned for this PhD project will mimic local environmental conditions and employ fish part of the Tasmanian industry lead Selective Breeding Program (SBP) at two different sizes. The project will access a number of genetic lines (i.e. families) which have been selected over the years based on their performance, and other commercial relevant traits, to thrive in Tasmanian conditions and that will continue to be selected to adapt to a rapidly changing climate.

The main aim is to further investigate and better understand the effect of changes in both temperature and oxygen on performance and "omes" (i.e. metabolome and proteome) of Tasmania Atlantic salmon as well as verify the genetic response and compare it to that observed in commercial settings to inform the industry on future strategies for selective breeding. The same conditions will be tested at two different sizes over two consecutive experiments to also understand how size interacts with those environmental variables. In fact, in a near future with the expansion into new production sites, including ones offshore, strategic planning around most suitable size for different sites based on their own localised environmental conditions will become essential.

The final major aim, deriving from the use of SBP fish and data comparison between different environments where these are reared, is to translate EAF-based research to commercial settings in the fastest possible way and validate the use of EAF as a "tool" to obtain meaningful answers to commercially relevant issues and which would not be possible to achieve at a commercial scale. The validation of EAF as "translation tool" will also lay the foundations for IMAS to further support the industry via the capability to test conditions which are likely to occur as part of climate change (e.g. longer periods of elevated sub-optimal temperatures and more frequent low DO events) but which would be impossible to test in commercial settings as not occurring yet. This will eventually inform on how the Tasmanian stocks will react and the type of response produced at multiple biological levels which will be extremely informative for the industry, in particular for targeted selective breeding.

The PhD will be aligned with a Blue Economy CRC project (2022-2025) that is led by IMAS and includes salmon industry partners. The research will be conducted at the world class EAF facility for conducting commercially relevant salmonid research on these themes and will build on IMAS procedures, experience and expertise 7–9. Furthermore, critical support from the Tasmania industry lead Selective Breeding Program (SBP) will be provided given their direct interest in the outcome of the trials and the development of EAF into a "translation tool".

Primary Supervisor

Meet Prof Chris Carter

Funding

Applicants will be considered for a Research Training Program (RTP) scholarship or Tasmania Graduate Research Scholarship (TGRS) which, if successful, provides:

  • a living allowance stipend of $28,854 per annum (2022 rate, indexed annually) for 3.5 years
  • a relocation allowance of up to $2,000
  • a tuition fees offset covering the cost of tuition fees for up to four years (domestic applicants only)

If successful, international applicants will receive a University of Tasmania Fees Offset for up to four years.

As part of the application process you may indicate if you do not wish to be considered for scholarship funding.

Eligibility

Applicants should review the Higher Degree by Research minimum entry requirements.

Additional eligibility criteria specific to this project/scholarship:

  • Applicants must be able to undertake the project on-campus

Selection Criteria

The project is competitively assessed and awarded.  Selection is based on academic merit and suitability to the project as determined by the College.

Additional essential selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Handling and sampling experimental animals
  • Experimental design and statistical analysis at Honours / Master level
  • High level written communication and ability to publish research

Additional desirable selection criteria specific to this project:

  • Bioinformatic analysis for proteomics and metabolomics
  • Image analysis
  • Fish / animal husbandry

Application process

There is a three-step application process:

  1. Select your project, and check you meet the eligibility and selection criteria;
  2. Contact the Primary Supervisor, Prof Chris Carter to discuss your suitability and the project's requirements; and
  3. Submit an application by the closing date listed above.
    • Copy and paste the title of the project from this advertisement into your application. If you don’t correctly do this your application may be rejected.
    • As part of your application, you will be required to submit a covering letter, a CV including 2 x referees and your project research proposal.

Following the application closing date applications will be assessed within the College. Applicants should expect to receive notification of the outcome by email by the advertised outcome date.

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