Professor Andrea C. Alfaro

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Professor of Marine Ecology and Aquaculture, Leader – Aquaculture Biotechnology Research Group

Phone: +64 9 921 9999 ext 8197


Physical Address:
Wakefield street
WU Block,
City Campus,
Auckland City
Postal Address:
Private Bag 92006
Auckland 1142
New Zealand
(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.

Teaching Areas:

  • Marine Ecology
  • Marine Invertebrates
  • Aquaculture

Research Areas:

  • Marine Ecology
  • Aquaculture

Research Summary:

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.


Selected Publications:


  • 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
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