Dr Mairi Cowan


        Dr Mairi Cowan holding an oyster shell

EU Marie Curie Research Fellow in Shellfish Endocrinology

An experienced researcher with a core focus on reproductive neuroendocrinology and physiology in fish and shellfish species for commercial aquaculture. Awarded two EU Marie Curie individual fellowships: NEUROBASS and NEUROSHELL.

Contact details:

My research has centered on the neuroendocrine control of reproduction in fish species of interest for aquaculture. In particular, looking at the transduction of environmental information to brain neuroendocrine centres, and seasonal and daily variations in neurohormones. As a continuation, my work is expanding into the area of bivalve reproductive neuroendocrinology, applying our knowledge and understanding from a vertebrate model to invertebrate species of high aquaculture and conservation importance.

Current projects

NEUROSHELL: Advancing knowledge and acquiring expertise in shellfish research by investigating environmental, neuroendocrine and endocrine control of key stages in oyster aquaculture, using a rhythmic approach

 

Highlight past projects

SOLEMBRYO: Embryonic and larval rhythms: role of environmental cycles in development, sexual determination/differentiation and reproduction in sole. Funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Business. 01/01/2014 – 31/12/2017

New neuroendocrine factors of applied interest for marine aquaculture. Andalusian Regional Government: Innovation, Scienceand Enterprise Council. 01/01/2011 – 31/07/2016

NEUROBASS: Acquiring competencies in neuroendocrinology by an aquaculture researcher through investigating Gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone & Kisspeptin as mediators between environmental cues & fish reproduction. Funder EU Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (FP7-PEOPLE-2012-IEF). 01/05/2013 – 30/04/2015

Implementation of all female production in the UK halibut farming industry: progeny testing of neomales. Funder: Otter Ferry Seafish Ltd and Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum. 15/02/2010 – 15/04/2011

Research and development of stock management strategies to optimise growth potential in ongrowing of marine fish. Funder: Scottish Aquaculture Research Forum. 01/02/2007 – 31/01/2010

Peer-reviewed publications

Paullada-Salmerón JA, Cowan ME, Loentgen GH, Aliaga-Guerrero M, Zanuy S, Mañanós EL, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2019) The gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone system in fish: The case of sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 279: 184-195

Paredes JF, Cowan M, López-Olmeda JF, Muñoz-Cueto JA, Sánchez-Vázquez FJ, (2019) Daily rhythms in expression in reproductive genes along the brain-pituitary-gonad axis and liver of zebrafish. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 231: 158-169

Muñoz-Cueto JA, Paullada-Salmeron JA, Aliaga-Guerrero M, Cowan ME, Parhar IS, Ubuka T (2017) A journey through the gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone system of fish. Frontiers in Endocrinology - Experimental Endocrinology, 8:285

Cowan M, Azpeleta C, López-Olmeda JF (2017) Rhythms in the endocrine system of fish: A review. Journal of Comparative Physiology B 187(8): 1057-1089

Cowan M, Paullada-Salmerón JA, López-Olmeda JF, Sánchez-Vázquez FJ, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2017) Effects of pinealectomy on neuroendocrine reproductive systems and locomotor activity in male European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 207: 1-12

Paullada-Salmerón JA, Loentgen GH, Cowan M, Aliaga-Guerrero M, Rendón-Unceta MC, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2017) Developmental changes and daily expression of the gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone system in the European sea bass: Effects of rearing temperature. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 206: 54-62

Paullada-Salmerón JA, Cowan M, Aliaga-Guerrero M, López-Olmeda JF, Mañanós E, Zanuy S, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2016) Testicular steroidogenesis and locomotor activity are regulated by gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone in male European sea bass. PLoS One, 11(10): e0165494

Paullada-Salmerón JA, Cowan M, Aliaga-Guerrero M, Morano F, Zanuy S, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2016) Gonadotropin inhibitory hormone down-regulates the brain-pituitary reproductive axis of male European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Biology of Reproduction, 94 (6):121, 1-11

Paullada-Salmeron JA, Cowan M, Aliaga-Guerrero M, Gómez A, Zanuy S, Mañanos E, Muñoz-Cueto JA (2016) LPXRFa peptide system in the European sea bass: a molecular and immunohistochemical approach. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 524: 176–198

Palaiokostas C, Bekaert M, Davie A, Cowan ME, Oral M, Taggart JB, Gharbi K, McAndrew B, Penman DJ, Migaud H (2013) Mapping the sex determination locus in the Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus) using RAD sequencing. BMC Genomics, 14: 566-577

Migaud H, Ismail R, Cowan M, Davie A (2012) Kisspeptin and seasonal control of reproduction in male European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). General and Comparative Endocrinology, 179: 384-399

Cowan M, Davie A, Migaud H (2012) Photoperiod effects on the expression of kisspeptin and gonadotropin genes in Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua, during first maturation. Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology A, 163: 82-94

Cowan M, Davie A, Migaud H (2011) The effect of combining shading and continuous lighting on the suppression of sexual maturation in outdoor reared Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua. Aquaculture, 320(1-2): 113-122

Cowan M, Davie A, Migaud H (2011) The effect of metal halide and novel green cathode lights on the stress response, innate immunity, eye structure and feeding activity of Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L. Aquaculture Research, 42: 115-124

Migaud H, Cowan M, Taylor J, Davie A, Ferguson H (2007) The effect of spectral composition and light intensity on melatonin, stress and retinal damage in post-smolt Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar. Aquaculture, 270: 390-404

Current research students

Aaliyah Malla: Broodstock management in native oysters. MSc Aquaculture, Environment and Society, University of the Highlands and Islands. 2019-20

 

Alumni research students

Eleonora Aielli: The effects of gonadotropin-inhibitory hormone on the expression of feeding-related neuropeptides in the European sea bass. MSc Marine Biology, University of Bologna Italy (thesis completed at the University of Cádiz through an Erasmus exchange). 2016-17

Luca Marisaldi: The melatoninergic system in the European sea bass: effects of pinealectomy. MSc Marine Biology, Italy (thesis completed at the University of Cádiz through an Erasmus exchange). 2016-17

 

SciArt activities

Music composition is another interest of mine. Here is a 2013 example. I hope to do more going forward. 

 

Employment history

2018-19: Research Development Facilitator. Inverness College, University of the Highlands and Islands, UK

2016-17: Researcher. University of Cádiz, Spain

2013-15: EU Marie Curie Postdoctoral Researcher (NEUROBASS). University of Cádiz, Spain

2011-13: Research Assistant. Marine Environmental Research Laboratory, University of Stirling, Machrihanish, UK

2006-07: Research Technician. Marine Environmental Research Laboratory, University of Stirling, Machrihanish, UK

 

Qualifications

2011 PhD Fish Reproductive Physiology; 'Research and development of stock management strategies to optimise growth potential in on-growing of Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua and Atlantic halibut, Hippoglossus hippoglossus'. Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, UK

2006 MSc Aquaculture; 'The effect of spectral composition and light intensity on melatonin, stress and retinal damage in post-smolt Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar'. Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling, UK

2005 BSc (Hons) Animal Biology. University of St Andrews, UK