Aquaculture Research at the Wrigley Marine Science Center

Half of all seafood consumed worldwide is produced by aquaculture (farming of marine and freshwater organisms for human consumption). This practice is predicted to become increasingly important as society strives to reduce pressure on wild seafood resources. USC faculty are working with the aquaculture industry to optimize production in the face of growing consumer demand and with an eye toward managing aquaculture under future changing ocean conditions.

Recently funded in part by the Waitt Foundation, the USC Wrigley Institute’s Future of Food from the Sea program helps promote sustainable shellfish production for today and tomorrow. Our researchers seek to understand how shellfish will physiologically respond to new environmental challenges such as temperature fluctuations, decreasing ocean pH, and disease. By using cutting edge molecular and genetic techniques, and by monitoring and modeling coastal conditions to understand the link between organism and environment, our faculty aim to help commercial growers identify potential environmental threats and generate workable solutions.

Further research in the Future of Food from the Sea program will explore the possibility of breeding more “tolerant” strains of shellfish. By identifying genes or family lines that exhibit more robust environmental traits, researchers hope to raise shellfish that survive, grow, and/or reproduce more efficiently under changing ocean conditions. The Wrigley Institute is building facilities to support this research: from our new research greenhouse to raise algae and young larvae, to floating nurseries and long-line systems that provide adults with habitat in the local waters of Catalina Harbor. Upon completion, this facility will allow researchers to rear entire self-sustaining generations of shellfish at the Wrigley Marine Science Center without the need for importing organisms from industry or other organizations.

The Future of Food from the Sea program is an exciting opportunity for USC to influence the future success of sustainable aquaculture production. By partnering with industry representatives, our researchers will contribute to enhanced food security in the changing natural and societal climates of the 21st century.

 

Affiliated Faculty:
Donal Manahan
Dennis Hedgecock
Sergey Nuzhdin