PhD scholarship in microalgae production for shellfish hatchery - DTU Aqua

Updated: 3 months ago

Are you interested in investigating innovative tools and methods for producing microalgae adapted to shellfish hatcheries and contribute to the fields of aquaculture, restoration and microalgae resource valorisation? On how to adapt microalgae culture to generate sustainable and cost-efficient feed using either model strains or local polyspecific communities? Would you like to collaborate with stakeholders to support both the industry and the environment? If so, here is an opportunity for you.

At DTU Aqua, we offer a 3-year PhD student position with focus on microalgae production as food for shellfish hatchery production of the local European flat oyster Ostrea edulis in our newly built low trophic species hatchery and nursery (link hatchery ) located at the Danish Shellfish Centre in Nykøbing Mors in the Northern part of Denmark. You will be employed in the Section for Coastal Ecology and work together with Nantes University, located in Saint-Nazaire, France, in the Section of Bioprocesses Applied to Microalgae. During your scholarship, you will gain scientific expertise in marine biology, shellfish growth, ecophysiology, nutritional composition, microalgae and microbiome composition, microalgae culture, environmental interactions, water monitoring, ecosystem services, bivalve restoration and aquaculture including enhanced culture practice methods for European flat oyster production and how to make management recommendations.

Your PhD project is integrated in the LTA BOOST project  for which the overall goal is to develop Low Trophic species Aquaculture (LTA) in Danish waters. In your PhD project you will provide new tools and technologies to upscale cost-efficient and sustainable production of feed for shellfish in hatchery. Food production in shellfish hatchery represents up to 25-60% of the costs. Traditionally, mix of monoculture of few common microalgae species are produced to feed shellfish. However, shellfish performances in the hatchery suggest that monoculture mix lacks nutrients that could be provided by a diversified microalgal and bacterial community. Besides, stored broodstock in hatchery as well as recently produced spat in micronursery require large amount of food and low-cost technologies transferable to low-tech hatcheries. A simple low-cost approach could be to directly grow microalgal biomass from natural seawater in open ponds, yet this is not an option in areas where local water is contaminated by parasite such Bonamia ostrea for disease-free production of Ostrea edulis ,which requires high water treatment as part of the biosecurity measures. Therefore, new strategies need to be defined to generate cost-efficient and qualitative microalgal feed for Ostrea edulis hatcheries.  

In your project you will build on existing knowledge developed at DTU Aqua regarding the flat oyster production and microalgae culture for shellfish hatchery by acquiring new scientific expertise on the influence of nutrients and processes parameters on the production of monoculture and mixed cultures of microalgae. You will study the importance of nutrition and microalgae species composition on the flat oyster growth and performance. You will run culture and feeding trials, use molecular biology and analytical tools as well as develop monitoring and microalgae culture strategy protocols.

You will join a supportive and fun work environment at DTU Aqua and can help shape our Low Trophic Species research programme. Your main supervisor will be Senior Researcher Camille  Saurel (Aquaculture and experimental ecophysiologist – DTU Aqua). You will be co-supervised by Dr. Marie Renaudie (Bioprocess engineering and   microalgae cultivation - NU).

Responsibilities and qualifications
You will be responsible for conducting experimental research on monoculture and polyspecific microalgae assemblage production and feeding trials on shellfish, in particular flat oyster to upscale flat oyster production for both aquaculture production and develop protocol to increase quality and reduce feed production costs. The results will serve as basis for upscaling microalgae production and contribute to the future development of integrated multitrophic aquaculture with water recycling and nutrient removal. 

Your responsibility and tasks will be to: 

  • Plan and complete laboratory experiments and work of microalgae cultures, both community and monocultures.
  • Conduct analyses on microalgae nutritional and community composition and quality monitoring at different culture stages using analytical tools.
  • Field sampling and monitoring: collect phytoplankton community samples and flat oysters at different seasons.
  • Hatchery and laboratory feeding trial with physiological measurements and tissue composition on broodstock and spat of European flat oyster respecting biosecurity measures.
  • Contribute to the daily routine and work tasks of the section, incl. feed and maintain the oysters, data collection in the hatchery and in the field, water quality. 
  • Complete various PhD school courses (30 ECTS).
  • Disseminate scientific results in peer-reviewed papers. 
  • Attend conferences to present your research and expand your academic network.  

You must have a two-year master’s degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master’s degree.

Your desired traits and skills:

  • Curiosity and high motivation for marine research.
  • Accuracy and patience for laboratory work.
  • Experience in laboratory work, aquaculture system and field work.
  • Analytical and statistical analysis skills, interest in genetic tools.
  • Strong written and oral communication skills in English. 
  • Ability to work independently and be flexible.
  • Capacity to travel between your main working place in Nykøbing Mors and the DTU Aqua facility in Lyngby for short stay and longer stay at Nantes University (Saint-Nazaire) in France.

The applicant should have experience or knowledge in three or more of the following:

  • Marine biology
  • Microalgae production
  • Shellfish production
  • Methodology and protocol development of analytical tools/instruments
  • Bioprocess engineering
  • Microbiology

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see DTU’s rules for the PhD education . 

An assessment of the applicants will be made by Senior Researcher Camille Saurel, Dr. Marie Renaudie, and Head of Coastal Ecology Section DTU Aqua Professor Jens Kjerulf Petersen.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms 
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here .

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Senior Researcher Camille Saurel at DTU Aqua. Phone +45 61 15 01 62; email:

You can read more about DTU Aqua at ; Section for coastal ecology at .

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark . Furthermore, you have the option of joining our monthly free seminar “PhD relocation to Denmark and startup “Zoom” seminar ” for all questions regarding the practical matters of moving to Denmark and working as a PhD at DTU. 

Application procedure 
Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 15 October 2023 (23:59 Danish time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae 
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma including official description of grading scale
  • Brief research proposal (1-2 pages) outlining ideas in terms of addressing the research topics provided in the short description of the PhD project above. Candidates are encouraged to include relevant references to support their research proposal.

You may apply prior to ob­tai­ning your master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

Section for Coastal Ecology at DTU Aqua, Technical University of Denmark
Section for Coastal Ecology at DTU Aqua conducts research within the ecology of the coastal zone from nutrient dynamics to fish as well as the coastal zone as a fishing ground and production area for low-trophic aquaculture. Our core research areas are aquaculture of low-trophic species i.e. bivalves and seaweed, fisheries and effects of fishery and seaweed collection in the coastal zone, marine habitats and their importance in the coastal zone for biodiversity and fish. The results of the research are largely translated into practice through advice to public management and the industry. We have a strong national and international collaboration network of universities, research institutions, and industry.

DTU Aqua – National Institute of Aquatic Resources – works for well-functioning oceans, rivers, and lakes where biodiversity can thrive. Our research, advisory service, and education contribute to the development of a sustainable blue bioeconomy, robust aquatic ecosystems, and reduced effects of climate change. We have a large national and international network and cooperate with research partners, public authorities, industry, and NGOs. We have state-of-the-art research facilities and Denmark’s largest research vessel. The Institute has 350 employees, of whom one-third are scientific staff. More than 30 nationalities are represented at the Institute, and we support an equal gender distribution. We are located in Lyngby, Hirtshals, Nykøbing Mors, and Silkeborg and have regular activities in Greenland. Learn more on

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear mission to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That mission lives on today. DTU has 13,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.

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