University of Alabama Trout Nutrition and Growth Research Project

PhD candidate, Khalid Freij, has been driving the Dale Hollow as part of researching growth and nutrition for the University of Alabama’s Department of Biology. Khalid, along with Lab Tech Landen Ballew and fellow PhD candidate Micheal Addo, collect 200-300 rainbow trout annually for different experiments and trials.

From Khalid, “I want to continue my research in aquaculture to better support food security domestically and understand ungluing growth mechanism in skeletal muscle.”

Peggy R. Biga, Ph.D. | Associate Professor Department of Biology, UAB | The University of Alabama at Birmingham:

The Biga Laboratory at UAB has partnered with the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery for nearly 10 years. This partnership has allowed the Biga Lab to focus research efforts on unraveling mechanisms that regulate skeletal muscle growth.

Specifically, this partnership has allowed for the validation of a cell culture assay that enables the researchers to understand impacts on muscle differentiation processes that allow rainbow trout to continually grow, which is important for aquaculture and conservation efforts alike.

For example, using the muscle cell culture methodology, we have shown that removing one key dietary nutrient, methionine, completely halts muscle cell differentiation, which can be rescued by adding that nutrient back. This validated assay allows us to identify key players regulating skeletal muscle growth and differentiation and will provide us with the tools to better understand key husbandry methods. Using microarray and quantitative PCR technology we have identified several key regulatory genes and microRNAs that appear to be key in instructing skeletal muscle cells to proliferate, differentiate, or become dormant.

The more we understand these key players, the better we can enhance the sustainability of raising trout and other important teleost fishes. The Biga lab will continue to work in partnership with the Dale Hollow National Fish Hatchery, and employing molecular biology, genetics, and endocrinology methods, to unravel the mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle growth in salmonid fishes.   

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