Leading in aquaculture research

The Institute of Aquaculture is a leading international centre for research in its field with over 80% of research activity rated world-leading and internationally excellent. We proudly bring together world-class researchers from a variety of disciplines to address a range of challenges the world faces as aquaculture grows to meet global demand. Our excellent staff, facilities and networks, including the Scottish Aquaculture Innovation Centre hosted at Stirling, make us the first choice for research partners from across the globe.


Our research goals

Our research will investigate and address fundamental and applied research questions to provide insights and novel solutions towards solving the global challenges facing the world today and in the future.

Our work focuses on research regarding:

  • Global Food Security
  • Changing Global Environments (Mitigating and Adapting)
  • Resilience to Change (Social, Economic and Environmental)

Our research addresses the needs of individual animals and whole populations, as well as providing the knowledge base for the wider system impacts on the physical environments.

By using a thematic approach to our research programmes we are able to develop interdisciplinary research teams working across five thematic areas: Feeding, Breeding, Health, Wellbeing and Protecting the Environment.

Research themes

Our academic staff are organised into five thematic research groups, which are further divided into nine research teams. Each group covers a breadth of research, as outlined below. You can find out more about the individual academics working in these teams on our Academic Structure page.



Breeding and Genetic Improvement

We focus on the development and application of the latest genetic and genomic techniques to improve broodstock management, welfare and performance in established and new farmed aquatic animals. We work on the control, of reproduction, sterility, selective breeding, mechanisms of sex differentiation and gender control which result in the production of fish as a controllable and sustainable resource. We combine the use of molecular biology and genomics, with whole animal studies of physiology and function, with strong impact on the global industry.


Our drive is to work with partners to develop new fish feeds that utilise alternative oil and protein sources as replacements for traditional fish oils and meals, and meet health needs of consumers in terms of flesh quality, nutritional composition, contamination, sustainability and traceability. We work on fish as principal sources of omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids which play key roles in human nutrition for the development of the nervous system, and in the prevention and therapy of various pathological conditions, including cardiovascular and inflammatory disorders.



We research all aspects of aquatic animal health with research teams focusing on emerging aquatic infectious diseases including virology and bacteriology, immunology and vaccinology, and parasitology. We have a strong expertise in aquatic animal epidemiology and welfare at population level. Our activities span from fundamental research through applied, user- driven research to consultancy (veterinary diagnostics and vaccines). The overall aim is to improve our understanding of major pathogens, fish immune responses and how to reduce stressors in culture systems.

Welfare and Behaviour

Good aquatic animal health and welfare underpins research excellence, successful aquaculture and sustainable fisheries across the globe. Our research covers health and welfare of farmed and wild caught species, from individual to population. We use a multi-disciplinary approach from epidemiology and modeling at the population level to the behavioral, physiological and molecular regulation underpinning individual adaptation to environmental challenge. Collaborative activities with stakeholders and regulators aim to develop best management practices, from high level strategy to on farm tools for daily husbandry.

Aquaculture researchers in lab

aquaculture systems

Aquaculture Systems

This theme brings together environmental management, with the societal and technological interface to inform strategies for developmental impact and global aquatic food security. Activities encompass environmental and social modelling, carrying capacity, spatial analysis and biodiversity. We work closely with international partners to secure and improve aquatic resource users’ livelihoods, value chains and lifecycle assessment.