Aquaculture is a sustainable means of generating high-quality fish to satisfy the growing global fish consumption. Flatfish are attractive species for aquaculture due to their high market value and consumer demand. However, abnormal development during metamorphosis is often a problem and has hampered the development of successful flatfish aquaculture. Hence, it is critical to understand the specific molecular signalling pathways associated with abnormal metamorphosis.
Larval metamorphosis has been studied using histological sections and gene expression profiling. However, the first requires sacrificing fish and the latter uses pool of larvae. Hence, there is an increasing demand for 3D imaging tools to directly visualise the mechanisms of metamorphosis in whole live flatfish. This offers a unique opportunity for optical imaging (OI) modalities, which are becoming popular for imaging targeted biological processes in model organisms (e.g. zebrafish). However, their full potential for biology and non-model organisms is being overlooked.
The vision for this fellowship is to develop a non-invasive OI tool for real-time 3D in vivo imaging, for studying the molecular mechanisms regulating flatfish metamorphosis. The project combines recent advances in the mathematics of forward and inverse problems, marine molecular biology and modern OI technologies, including selective plane illumination microscopy and optical projection tomography. The developed OI tools will provide clear high-resolution pictures from the inside of live flatfish. Accurate light propagation models and image reconstruction methods will be developed to obtain high-quality images of biological significance. Moreover, novel acquisition schemes will be implemented to enable real-time 3D imaging. Finally, the OI tools will be used for in vivo flatfish imaging to obtain markers of normal and abnormal metamorphosis. This is essential to establish a sustainable and profitable flatfish aquaculture industry.
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