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Biosciences: Funded PhD Scholarship at Swansea University: Delivering safe and nutritious tilapia to low income countries

This scholarship is funded by Swansea University and Three-Sixty Aquaculture.

Subject areas: Sustainable Aquaculture, Food Security, Fish Welfare, Poverty Alleviation

Start date: 1 April 2018 or 1 July 2018

Knowledge Gaps and Key Challenges Addressed by this Project

World fish consumption is expected to reach c. 200 million tons by 2020, most of which will have to come from farmed fish, as the majority of wild fisheries are either stagnant or grossly over-exploited. To meet future global food demands, aquaculture is expected to intensify production, and deliver fish that will have to thrive on less food and less water, all compounded by increasingly warmer temperatures. The consumption of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA) is essential for human health but its intake has decreased worldwide as a result of new eating habits, increased dependence on vegetable oils, and wider availability of processed foods. This problem is particularly acute in many African countries, where the recent adoption of westernized diets has resulted in a nutritional deficit of omega-3 PUFA and a substantial increase in the incidence of chronic illnesses. Tilapia represents one of the main potential long-term sources of fish for many poor countries, but the species is also one of the most invasive ones, and does not naturally contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, essential to human health. Enrichment of tilapia with omega-3 PUFA could improve human health, with clear socioeconomic benefits. However, fish oils traditionally used to enrich commercial tilapia feeds are expensive, unsustainable, and may not be readily available to many low income countries. We propose to increase dietary omega-3 PUFA through the production of sustainably farmed Nile tilapia, reared on improved microalgae diets rich in omega-3 oils, proteins and vitamins. Thus, the key challenge addressed by this proposal is the need to deliver improved tilapia which must be:

Nutritious; enriched with omega-3 PUFA from natural sourcesSafe to eat; reared in pollutant-free water, free from dangerous natural pathogensSustainable; reared with no waste, and near-zero nutrient lossFully bio-contained; unable to escape or introgress with native fishWater friendly; reared on recycled water, reducing aquaculture’s environmental impactsCheap to produce and easy to rear;  thanks to low cost technology, low trophic levelFast growing; with high conversion efficiency, meeting the needs of poor producersAccessible; affordable, easy to process and distribute to poor consumers

Novelty  

We propose to address the above challenges through innovation with our research partner in Wales (360 Aquaculture). More specifically, during this PhD we propose to:

Develop a low-cost, integrated algae-tilapia RAS to produce safe, omega-3 enriched tilapia for use in low income countriesCharacterize, for the first time, the gut microbiome associated with high omega-3 assimilation in tilapia, andDevelop novel dietary biomarkers in tilapia that can be used non-destructively 

Please visit the Centre for Sustainable Aquatic Research (CSAR) webpage for more information.

Eligibility

Candidates should have a 2.1 or above undergraduate degree or an MSc (Merit or equivalent)/MRes in a related subject area (aquaculture, biosciences, etc.).

Molecular skills and ability to drive would be an advantage.

We would normally expect the academic and English Language requirements to be met by point of application. For details on the University’s English Language entry requirements, please visit – http://www.swansea.ac.uk/admissions/englishlanguagerequirements/

Due to funding restrictions, this scholarship is open to UK/EU candidates only.

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Benefits

The scholarship covers the full cost of UK/EU tuition fees, plus an annual stipend of £14,553.

There will be £2,000 per annum for other research expenses such as lab work, travel and conference attendance.

Application

Please visit our website for more information.

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