Pallab Sarker is a Research Assistant Professor in Sustainable Fish Nutrition in the Environmental Studies Program at Dartmouth College. He is an expert on nutrition of fish and shrimp for aquaculture, including freshwater (rainbow trout, tilapia, Indian major carps, common carp, zebrafish, silver barb) and marine (yellowtail, Japanese flounder and shrimp) species. His research interests span fish nutrition, physiology and aquaculture including nutrient requirements of fish; evaluation of ingredients for digestibility and formulation of nutritionally balanced, environmentally sustainable and cost-effective diets; and impacts of nutrition on fish physiology and gene expression.
Dr. Sarker received his B.Sc in Fisheries and M.S. in Fisheries Technology from Bangladesh Agricultural University (1994, 1998). He received the Japanese Government Scholarship (Monbukagakusho) for his graduate studies in Japan, leading to his M.Sc. (2004, Lab of Fish Nutrition, Kochi University) and Ph.D. (2007, United Graduate School of Agriculture, Ehime University). His research in Japan focused on nutritional strategies to reduce environmental impacts of fish culture by changing feed formulations to meet nutrient requirements and incorporating enzymes into diets of Japanese flounder and yellowtail.
As a postdoctoral researcher at Laval University, Canada (2008-2012) he conducted and coordinated the following aquaculture nutrition and physiology core research programs: 1) optimization of the composition of practical diets for rainbow trout aquaculture – including studies on alternative feedstuffs to reduce reliance on fish meal and fish oil and on strategies to minimize phosphorous and nitrogen loading and contaminants in aquaculture wastes; 2) effects of vitamin (biotin) on growth, survival, biotin deficiency syndrome, and gene expression of Nile tilapia and zebrafish; and 3) strategies to prevent off-flavors in rainbow trout raised in recirculating aquaculture systems in order to improve the quality of both the farmed fish and water resources.
Dr. Sarker was a Scientific Officer at the Brackishwater Station in Bangladesh Fisheries Research Institute (1998-2002) where he conducted research in adaptive aquaculture and practical aspects of fish/shrimp nutrition. He initiated and led shrimp feed formulation research from locally available fishmeal and alternative feed ingredients for sustainable development of this industry in Bangladesh. His research on integrated rice-fish farming led to the dissemination of genetically improved farmed tilapia (GIFT) and common carps in coastal regions of Bangladesh. As workshop/seminar coordinator at the Brackishwater Station, he led the dissemination of aquaculture technology working with stakeholders such as the shrimp/fish industry, regulatory agencies, educators and the public, businesses, consumers, local communities, and academic and federal scientists.
He is a member of the manuscript review committee of the Journal of Animal Physiology and Animal Nutrition and the Journal of the World Aquaculture Society.
Dr. Sarker’s current research at Dartmouth investigates the digestibility of different microalgae species and their incorporation in tilapia feed formulae to replace fish meal and fish oil towards improved sustainability of aquafeeds while assuring human health benefits of fish raised on these diets. Global consumer demand for fish products is predicted to grow, with aquaculture filling the shortfall from static or declining capture fisheries. Sustainably produced and nutritionally complete aquafeeds must keep pace with consumer demand for edible fish. However, over-reliance of the aquaculture industry on marine-derived fish meal and fish oil has raised concerns regarding negative impacts on reduction fisheries and marine ecosystems. Terrestrial oil seed and grain are now used as alternative lipid and protein sources in commercial aquafeeds but pose nutritional and environmental problems due to low levels of long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids, unbalanced essential amino acid compositions, and high levels of anti-nutritional factors. Phytate-bound phosphorous in these terrestrial feedstuffs is largely undigested by fish and ends up in fish culture effluents contributing to eutrophication. Over-reliance on these plant resources also embroils aquaculture in concerns about massive use of croplands to produce animal feeds instead of food for direct human consumption.
These issues have created a strong incentive for research on environmentally sustainable feedstuffs as alternatives to marine-derived fishmeal and fish oil. Dr. Sarker’s current research thus investigates the use of microalgae as alternative feedstuffs, as well as incorporation of microalgae-based diets into integrated food energy systems. He is a member of Dartmouth’s Team IFES.
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