Essential fatty acids. Our group is leader in the study of the molecular mechanisms that explain the biosynthesis of long chain (C20-24) and very long (> C24) polyunsaturated fatty acids in aquatic animals. The production of these compounds requires the participation of fatty acid desaturase and elongase enzymes. Their study in cultured aquatic organisms has numerous practical implications in aquaculture nutrition. On the one hand, the knowledge of these enzymes in a cultured species is a highly effective tool to identify its essential fatty acids requirements, and thus to be able to formulate diets that satisfy such requirements. On the other hand, the study of desaturases and elongases in aquatic invertebrates opens the possibility of establishing culture conditions that favor essential fatty acid biosynthesis routes, resulting in ingredients of high nutritional value.

Nutritional value of aquacultured fish. This line of research addresses the need that exists in marine aquaculture, mainly for carnivorous fish species, such as those cultured in Spain, to be able to monitor the nutritional quality of the fish throughout the culture cycle. Specifically, our group is working on the development of rapid, effective and bloodless methods for monitoring the fatty acid profile in farmed fish without the need to sacrifice the animal.

Nutrition in larviculture. Our group has extensive experience in the culture of live preys for feeding larvae of marine organisms and in the improvement of their nutritional value through the enrichment and bioencapsulation of essential nutrients such as long chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, phospholipids, amino acids and vitamins. Innovative enrichment formulations based on liposomes and marine lipid emulsions have been developed. The nutritional quality of live preys is evaluated by their effects on parameters of larval culture (survival, growth, etc.), as well as by the study of the biochemical (lipidomic) and molecular profiles (gene expression and proteomics) of the larvae.

Biology and ecology of Artemia. In this line of research, the biodiversity of Artemia is investigated, as well as the mechanisms by which some species of this genus, used in marine larviculture, have invaded biotopes in which they compete with other native species. The biological factors that condition this phenomenon, such as biological fitness, parasitism, population dynamics, biodiversity, genetics, biogeography, invasions, parasitism, etc., are studied. Likewise, the effect of abiotic pressure, including anthropogenic factors, on the aforementioned biodiversity, is analyzed.

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