Thomas Clark

PhD Project: The role of functional amino acids as regulators of metabolic pathways in farmed salmonids

Project lead: Prof. Sam Martin (Macqueen: second supervisor)

Industrial partner: BioMar (Global Aquafeed Company)


Postgraduate research

I am in the second year of a 3.5 year PhD project partnered with the aquafeed company BioMar. I am investigating the effects of supplementing functional amino acids to the commercial diet of salmonids. The main focus of my PhD is arginine and its related pathways. Arginine is an essential amino acid for salmonids which means it must be included in their diet. It is also classed as a functional amino acid, meaning it participates in and/or regulates metabolic pathways leading to positive biological benefits. My project is focused around two feeding trials with amino acid supplementation on juvenile rainbow trout. The first trial was exploratory, and aimed to find out what effects supplementation had on growth and to optimize the supplementation level. The second trial will focus on the immune response of rainbow trout to an optimal supplementation level. I will then examine the impact of the tested diets on growth and the expression of key genes using qPCR and RNA sequencing. I am currently characterizing genes involved in arginine metabolism using both a bioinformatics approach and a range of molecular techniques.

Biography and previous work

Before my PhD, I studied Marine Biology at the University of Aberdeen, graduating with a BSc degree in June 2015. I completed an Honours research project with my current supervisor Prof. Sam Martin, during which I investigated the use of molecular biomarkers as an indicator of gut health in salmonids. This initial work allowed me to build on both my molecular biology and bioinformatic skills and has served me well on my transition to a PhD studentship.

Conference attended:​

Wageningen fish immunology workshop April 2016: Presented a poster and was awarded best poster prize