Graduate Research School Available Projects Striking Gold – nutritional manipulation of gold pigmentation in barramundi

Striking Gold – nutritional manipulation of gold pigmentation in barramundi

Title of Project

Striking Gold – nutritional manipulation of gold pigmentation in barramundi


Prof Dean Jerry , Dr Leo Nankervis

College or Research Centre

College of Science & Engineering

Summary of Project

Australian farmed barramundi exhibit “greying” in the flesh which reduces consumer attractiveness. Barramundi exhibit wide variation in their skin colouration, with two rare colour variants (golden-skinned and platinum-skinned) present. One rare colour variant, that of golden-skinned barramundi, do not exhibit flesh greying and have high market value, both as an aquarium fish and for commercial aquaculture production. This suggests that cell pigmentation and possibly the production and dispersal of pigments such as melanin is different in golden-skinned fish compared to normal coloured wild-type barramundi. While there is a clear genetic component to these colour variants, expression of the golden and platinum phenotype is inconsistent and there is a clear impact of physiology and environment that mediates colour expression. Colour expression in fish is often linked closely to nutritional inputs and environmental conditions and their mediation of the genetic basis for these colour morphs requires investigation.

This PhD project is part of an ARC Linkage funded partnership with Australia’s largest barramundi producer, Mainstream Aquaculture Group, to unravel genetic and physiological mechanisms behind the golden barramundi phenotype and investigate ways to produce fish with this phenotype at commercially relevant scales. The PhD project will specifically investigate nutritional and environmental inputs that mediate genetic and physiological mechanisms behind melanisation and skin colour in barramundi. This is an exciting opportunity to join a team of researchers engaged with developing markers and understanding the genetic and physiological mechanisms behind these rare colour morphs.

Key Words

barramundi; aquaculture; pigmentation; histology; transcriptomics

Would suit an applicant who

Available to both domestic and international applicants wishing to undertake a PhD. Applicants will need to apply for a JCU competitive Research Scholarship and should be familiar with the Higher Degree by Research Higher Degree by Research Requirements.

Enquiries to:

Dr Leo Nankervis (

Updated: 05 Aug 2021