PhD studentship: Effects of light on commercially relevant traits in Atlantic salmon



Pr. Herve Migaud and Dr. John Taylor from the Institute of Aquaculture (University of Stirling, UoS) and Dr. Cristina Tanase from Philips Lighting.


Light is a key driver/synchroniser of fish physiology and light regimes are routinely used in salmon farming to optimise fish performances through the manipulation of spawning, smoltification and control of puberty. However, basic knowledge on light efficiency with regards to key physiological responses remains poorly understood in fish with most data available concerning photoperiodic control rather than light control (intensity and spectrum). As a result, the use of light in salmon farming conditions remains limited to the manipulation of daylength to manipulate smoltification windows and suppress sexual maturation. Anecdotal and commercial evidence clearly suggest light intensity and spectrum can also impact on growth and food conversion when applied during sea ongrowing of Atlantic salmon although underlying mechanisms at work remains poorly characterised. Over the last three years, the collaboration between Philips Lighting and University of Stirling studied the effects of light intensity and spectrum on freshwater performances in Atlantic salmon. This new PhD program intends to study the effects of light during seawater ongrowing of salmon with a focus on commercially relevant physiological effects (growth, behaviour, sea lice control and early maturation) and a more fundamental characterisation of light perception pathways and downstream effects.     


The aims of this 3 year PhD project are 1) Tostudy the spectral and illuminance effects on growth and appetite during seawater on-growing, 2) To determine the impact of light on salmon and sea lice behaviour and 3) To implement a knowledge transfer strategy, in collaboration with Philips, to maximise the impacts of the project findings on a commercial scale. While the project is commercially applied, some more fundamental research will also be performed to better characterise salmon light sensitivity and downstream physiological effects. The work, both analytical and experimental, will involve a series of tank studies at UoS facilities and experiments carried out at commercial fish farms. The project is co-funded by Philips Lighting and University of Stirling, in collaboration with leading fish farming companies in Scotland.


The student will be trained in a range of techniques to monitor the perception and effects of light on growth/feed intake, behaviour through a range of physiological (morphometry, X-ray…), endocrine and molecular tools/markers as well as scientific writing / reporting.    


Candidates must have a First / Upper Second Class BSc / MSc in a relevant subject. It is not expected that candidates will have experience in the above techniques, but they will need to demonstrate the aptitude and commitment to be trained and work in both academic and farm environments. The applicant will be based at the UoS but periods of time (max 1-2 month/year) will be spent at external facilities as required by the project. Driving license required.

Applicants are encouraged to contact Prof. Herve Migaud ( , telephone +44 1786 467886) for further details of the project.

Application Process

To apply, send a covering letter and up-to-date CV to Candidates will then be selected and interviewed. The PhD will start by September 2016.

Closing Date

Applications to be submitted by 5pm on 01st July 2016.

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