The major projects running in the lab are derived from funded grants. Each student works on specific aspects of these larger research projects, for which he/she is expected to contribute his/her own ideas and lead the project.
Current and recent projects in the lab:
The intestinal role and function in adaptation to different salinities
The gastrointestinal tract is a multifunctional organ. In addition to its obvious role in food digestion and absorption, it has an important role in ion and acid-base regulation. Moreover, these functions are not separated from each other, they are dependent and regulated by their own activities and metabolic products. Many of the intestinal transporters involved in nutrient absorption depends on ion concentrations, acidity, metabolites, and electric potential. These parameters are affected by the environmental conditions in which the fish lives, and by the ingested food. We are studying these complex systems using various research approaches and tools.
Genetics and physiology of tilapia's low temperatures tolerance
In accordance with their tropical origin, the optimal temperature for most tilapia species is 25-28°C. The lethal temperature varies as a function of environmental effects, individual fish history and genetic effects. However, the genetic and physiological basis of tilapias’ cold tolerance has not been investigated in details. We are using blue tilapia (O. aureus) for selective breeding plan, aiming to improve their cold tolerance. Selected populations are used as a resource for physiological and genetic analyses.
Acute and chronic stress response
The aquaculture environment exposes fish to repeated acute stress and prolonged chronic stress, both of them have suppressive effects on production traits. Although the physiological responses to different stressors have been well researched for some fish species, the relationships between acute and chronic stress responses are much less known. We are studying this aspect on the species, population, and individual levels.
Adaptation of marine species to low salinities
European sea bass (D. labrax), gray mullet (M. cephalus), and white grouper (E. aenues), are popular Mediterranean fish species, which their domestication and culture in inland aquaculture is gaining an increasing interest. Our studies aim to characterize the effect of water mineral content and composition on the survival, growth and physiology of these speices, in order to evaluate the feasibility of their culture in various salinities. We are studying different acclimation protocols and dietary supplements for improved growth in low salinities.
Tilapia's sex determination
Variation in the genetic mechanisms of sex determination among tilapia species has been recognized for over 50 years. Male or female homogametic species and also some more complex patterns of sex determination were characterized in different tilapiine species. The research on tilapia sex determination is an example of applied agricultural research that led to a companion basic science research. Methodologies developed for the aquaculture production of monosex stocks drove interest and research on tilapia sex determination. Thus, beside the economic importance and interest, knowledge gained in these studies has established tilapia as a model for studying the evolution of sex determination systems.