University of Stirling approved to build aquaculture research facility

Published on
March 16, 2022
A new GBP 17 million (USD 22.4 million, EUR 20.4 million) aquaculture research and innovation facility at the University of Stirling in Scotland has moved a step closer to delivery.

A new GBP 17 million (USD 22.4 million, EUR 20.4 million) aquaculture research and innovation facility at the University of Stirling in Scotland has moved a step closer to delivery after plans were approved by the local council.

Building on the university’s Institute of Aquaculture, the National Aquaculture Technology and Innovation Hub (NATIH) intends to bring several experimental aquatic facilities together. Plans include a new tropical aquarium, state-of-the-art laboratories, and space dedicated to business incubation and acceleration. 

The hub is being funded by the U.K. government as part of the Stirling and Clackmannanshire City Region Deal, which is a broader GBP 90.2 million (USD 118.7 million, EUR 108.3 million) investment in innovation and infrastructure aimed at driving economic growth in the region.

Institute of Aquaculture Head Simon MacKenzie said the council’s approval is an “important milestone” in the development of NATIH.

“The hub will develop and reinforce a strong working relationship between the university’s researchers and the global aquaculture industry, ensuring that the ideas, interventions, and solutions developed will have a meaningful impact where they are needed most, and deliver jobs, growth, and prosperity,” he said.

U.K. Government Minister for Scotland Iain Stewart said Scotland has “huge potential for growth in aquaculture, which represents a significant opportunity for rural and coastal communities.

"The U.K. government is investing GBP 17 million in this hub, which will keep Scotland at the cutting edge of a global industry, bring in new jobs and investment, and ensure sustainability remains at the forefront,” he said.

Meanwhile, researchers from the Institute of Aquaculture and Roslin Institute have embarked on a new study to identify genetic mechanisms that could make Atlantic salmon resistant to sea lice.

Data previously collected from 12,000 infected fish will be used to identify regions of the salmon genome associated with resistance to the parasite. At the same time, Atlantic salmon will be compared with coho salmon to investigate the key mechanisms, genes, and proteins involved in their different responses to lice.

Gene editing will be used to validate and shortlist genes and processes that could be linked to resistance, through tests examining the effects of silencing genes of interest. Initial research will be conducted in fish cells, to identify the genes that are most likely to be involved in resisting infection by lice. These genes will then be targeted to produce gene-edited salmon embryos.

Photo courtesy of University of Stirling

Contributing Editor reporting from London, UK

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