Joe Penhaul Smith

        Photo of PhD student Joe Penhaul Smith at SAMS

PhD student

My research focusses upon the ability to culture microalgae, classically considered to be photautotrophic, on low cost carbon and nitrogen sources. This allows a greater mass of algae to be cultured for a lower price making algal culture economically viable for products other than high value ones.

Contact details:

Utilising microalgal mixotrophy to maximise larval nutrition

The aquaculture of the mussel species Mytilus edulis produces approximately 7000 tonnes of biomass in 2015.

While mussel aquaculture is theoretically a low carbon, sustainable source of protein, the ability to upscale these production of mussels in Scotland is limited by the supply of wild mussel larvae.

To expand production it is necessary to create a mussel larval hatchery. To create this hatchery the costs of production must be brought down before such a hatchery can be economically viable. As microalgal production may represent 40% of the costs of a larval hatchery it is necessary to reduce this cost. 

Mixotrophy is the ability of microalgae to be cultured with a carbon source, an alternative to use of light alone. This may be a method of reducing the costs of production of microalgae sustainably, however, more work is needed prior to mixotrophic production of aquaculture relevant microalgal species.


Professor John Day, SAMS

Dr Adam Hughes, SAMS

Dr Lesley McEvoy, NAFC Marine Centre UHI


ESF and Scottish Funding Council


University of the Highlands and Islands


2016-present   PhD researcher. SAMS UHI

2017  MRes 'Utilising macroalgae as a substrate for Thraustochytrid culture.' University of Aberdeen (research conducted at SAMS)

2015  BSc (Hons) Marine Biology and Oceanography. Newcastle University. Dissertation: Assessing the role of extracellular DNA in the stability of particle complexes in the ocean


Teaching experience

Teaching assistant - Maths and Statistics (year 1 Marine Science BSc)

Demonstrator - IOBOIC Masters Media Preparation practical