Professor of Marine Ecology and Aquaculture, Leader – Aquaculture Biotechnology Research Group
Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 8197
Private Bag 92006
(Mail No C-43)
Links to relevant web pages:
BSc, MSc(Hons), PhD (Auckland)
Memberships and Affiliations:
Aquaculture Biotechnology Group
Mangrove Research Group
Institute for Applied Ecology New Zealand
Professor Alfaro is a leading marine scientist with inter-disciplinary research interests in Aquaculture Biotechnology. Her research centres on understanding the complex interactions between organisms and their environments, in both natural (field ecology) and controlled (aquaculture) settings. Alfaro leads the Aquaculture Biotechnology Research Group at AUT, which is pioneering aquaculture research using innovative approaches, such as metabolomics and bioprospecting. With strong industry alliances, this research team provides direct production benefits to companies in New Zealand and overseas. Most notably, Alfaro has produced numerous publications on shellfish ecology and aquaculture, especially on the New Zealand green-lipped mussel. She also has a strong focus on emerging new species such as paua, scallops and geoduck, which are growing markets for New Zealand. Within the international arena, Alfaro is a member of several scientific societies, professional and editorial groups. She chaired the Global Aquaculture Alliance mussel section, where she worked with leading mussel experts worldwide to deliver guidelines for sustainable mussel cultivation. She routinely collaborates on international shellfish research projects, where she highlights New Zealand’s competitive advantage in aquaculture biotechnology.
- Marine Ecology
- Marine Invertebrates
- Marine Ecology
Aquaculture – biology and ecology of cultured species, production, nutrition and probiotics, health and immunology, reproduction and larval development, feed development, re-circulating systems, water quality and waste management. Special interest in shellfish (i.e., mussels, oysters, abalone, clams, scallops) ecology and aquaculture.
Estuarine/Rocky Shore Ecology – biodiversity, larval dispersal and transport, nutrient cycling, food webs, trophic interactions, shellfish reseeding. Special interests in community/ecosystem dynamics, and species-habitat ecology.
Current Research Projects:
- Omics (metabolomics, proteomics, transcriptomics, genomics) applications in aquaculture research
- Metabolomic applications in aquaculture production (bioinformatics and pathway analyses)
- Immunology of cultivated shellfish and fish
- Gut microbiome and digestibility enhancement
- Probiotics to improve shellfish nutrition and health
- Reproduction and cryopreservation of bivalve larvae
- Selective breeding - molecular and genetic analyses
- Physiological ecology of shellfish in grow-out environments
- Seafood quality enhancement along the supply chain
- Neurobiology and chemical receptors of invertebrate larvae
- Hatchery production of marine invertebrate larvae, such as mussels, clams, abalone, scallops and other species of commercial importance
- Reproductive behaviour and conditioning of broodstock.
- Alfaro, A. C., Nguyen, T. V. & Mellow, D. (2019). A metabolomics approach to access the effect of storage conditions on metabolic processes of New Zealand surf clams (Crassula aequilatera). Aquaculture 498:315-321.
- Nguyen, T.V., Alfaro, A.C., Merien, F., Young, T., Grandiosa, R., (2018). Metabolic and immunological responses of male and female New Zealand Greenshell™ mussels (Perna canaliculus) during Vibrio sp. infection. Journal of Invertebrate Pathology 157:80-89.
- Alfaro, A.C., Nguyen, T.V., Merien, F., (2018). The complex interactions of Ostreid herpesvirus 1, Vibrio bacteria, environment and host factors in mass mortality outbreaks of Crassostrea gigas. Reviews in Aquaculture, 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1111/raq.12284
- Nguyen, T.V., Alfaro, A.C., Young, T., Merien, F., (2018). Tissue-specific immune responses to Vibrio sp. infection in mussels (Perna canaliculus): A metabolomics approach. Aquaculture 500:118-125.
- Nguyen, T.V., Alfaro, A.C., Merien, F., (2018). Omics approaches to investigate host-pathogen interactions in mass mortality outbreaks of Crassostrea gigas. Reviews in Aquaculture. https://www.doi.org/10.1111/raq.12294.
- Bourgeois, B., Alfaro, A. C., Leopold, A., Andréoli, R., Bisson, E., Desnues, A., Duprey, J. L., Marchand, M. (2018). Sedimentary and elemental dynamics as a function of the elevation profile in a semi-arid mangrove toposequence. Catena.
- Bastakoti, U., Robertson, J., Alfaro, A. C. (2018). Spatial variation of heavy metals in sediments within a temperate mangrove ecosystem in northern New Zealand. Marine Pollution Bulletin 135:790-800.
- Nguyen, T. V., Alfaro, A. C., Merien, F., Lulijwa, R., Young, T. (2018). Copper-induced immunomodulation in mussel (Perna canaliculus) haemocytes. Metallomics 10:965-978.
- Grandiosa, R., Mérien, F., Young, T., Van Nguyen, T., Gutierrez, N., Kitundu, E., Alfaro, A.C., (2018). Multi-strain probiotics enhance immune responsiveness and alters metabolic profiles in the New Zealand black-footed abalone (Haliotis iris). Fish & Shellfish Immunology 82:330-338.
- Grandiosa, R., Bouwman, M. L., Young, T., Mérien, F., Alfaro, A. C. (2018). Effect of antiaggregants on the in vitro viability, cell count and stability of abalone (Haliotis iris) haemocytes. Fish and Shellfish Immunology 78:131-139.
- Nguyen, T. V., Alfaro, A. C., Young, T., Ravi ,S., Merien, F. (2018). Metabolomics study of immune responses of New Zealand Greenshell™ mussels (Perna canaliculus) infected with pathogenic Vibrio sp. Marine Biotechnology 20:396-409.
- Masoomi, D. S., Gutierrez-Maddox, N., Alfaro, A. C., Seyfoddin, A. (2018). Encapsulation for delivering bioactives in aquaculture. Reviews in Aquaculture.
- Dencer-Brown, A. M., Alfaro, A. C., Milne, S., Perrott, J. (2018). A review on biodiversity, ecosystem services, and perceptions of New Zealand's mangroves: Can we make informed decisions about their removal? Resources 7(1):01.
- Young, T., Kesarcodi-Watson, A., Alfaro, A. C., Merien, F., Nguyen, T. V., Mae, H., Le, D. V., Villas-Bôas, S. (2017). Differential expression of novel metabolic and immunological biomarkers in oysters challenged with a virulent strain of OsHV-1. Developmental and Comparative Immunology 73:229-245.
- Le, D. V., Alfaro, A. C., Ibarrola, I., Ragg, N. L. C., Hilton, Z., King, N. (2017). Allometric scaling of physiological rates in the New Zealand geoduck clam, Panopea zelandica. Aquaculture 473:105-109.
- Rusk, A. B., Alfaro, A. C., Young, T., Watts, E., Adams, S. L. (2017). Investigation of early mussel (Perna canaliculus) development using histology, SEM imaging, immunochemistry and confocal microscopy. Marine Biology Research 13:314-329.
- Zha, H., Lewis, G., Alfaro, A. C., Wang, S., Dong, Y., Grandiosa, R., Jeffs, A. (2017). Immune status of the spiny lobster Jasus edwardsii with tail fan necrosis. Diseases of Aquatic Organisms 126:229-238.
- Le D. V., Alfaro, A. C., Pook, C., Ragg, N.L.C., Hilton, Z., King, N. (2017). Biochemical composition of New Zealand geoduck clam broodstock (Panopea zelandica) conditioned under different temperature and feeding regimes. Aquaculture Research 48:1799-1814.
- Le, D. V., Alfaro, A. C., Ragg, N.L.C., Hilton, Z., King, N. (2017). Establishing the thermal window for aerobic scope in New Zealand geoduck clams (Panopea zelandica). Journal of Comparative Physiology – B 187:265-276.
- Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Research Excellence
- OECD Co-operative Research Programme Award
- Ross Mathieson Professional Development Award
- Royal Society of New Zealand, ISAT Award
- National Science Foundation Doctoral Fellowship, USA
- Hopkins Marine Station Fellowship, Monterey, California, USA
- Student Honour Medal, California State University, Northridge, USA
- Community Service Award, Imperial Court of Los Angeles, USA
- Science Speech Invitational Award, CSU, Hayward, USA
- Research Fellowship, Bermuda Biological Station for Research, Bermuda
- Honour Ribbon, Skyline College, California, USA