University of St Andrews

BBSRC/NERC Sustainable Aquaculture: New Research Grant Award to DGSD

Tuesday 03 March 2015

Congratulations to Bill Austin, Eileen Bresnan (Marine Scotland Science) and Keith Davidson (SAMS) who have been awarded a BBSRC/NERC research grant for their project "Toxic algae and sea-loch sediments: A novel investigation to understand the influence of climate change on harmful algal blooms and aquaculture". The award has been approved under the joint BBSRC/NERC Sustainable Aquaculture programme.

Commenting on the award to the University of St Andrews, Dr Austin noted that “a worldwide threat to human health from shellfish aquaculture comes from harmful, and particularly biotoxin producing, marine phytoplankton (often termed harmful algal blooms, HABs). These biotoxins accumulate in the shellfish flesh and can reach harmful concentrations. Consumption of shellfish flesh contaminated with these toxins can pose a serious risk to human health”. He went on to outline that the HABarchive project team represented “a unique combination of marine scientists from three different institutes with diverse, yet highly complementary skill-sets” and that “Eileen and Keith have an excellent track-record in HABs research and its relevance to aquaculture; I will bring an understanding of marine environments and their long term response to climate change. Together, we hope to build a new capacity in HABs research and advice in relation to aquaculture and climate change. The project provides exciting new opportunities to link current understanding of HAB plankton dynamics available through monitoring programmes directly to the sedimentary record; thereby enabling the first systematic evaluation of the risks posed to aquaculture from viable HAB cysts in these sediments”.

Photograph below shows an Alexandrium tamarense cyst, an example of a HAB-forming species (photomicrograph: E.Bresnan)

Photomicrograph of Alexandrium tamarense cyst