Stephen A. Watts, Ph.D.
Professor, Aquatic and Marine Sciences
Director, Aquatic Animals Research Core (AARC) Co-Director, UAB Zebrafish Resource Facility Associate Director, Animal Models Core, Nutrition and Obesity Research Center (NORC)
The research interests of our laboratory are broadly in the areas of nutrition, health and longevity. We use primarily comparative aquatic animal models in studies related to human health. Our primary outcomes include growth, reproduction, physiology and biochemistry, endocrinology, and immunological responses to nutritional and environmental stressors, particularly those related to changes in body composition and the mechanisms therein. We are very interested in the zebrafish and sea urchin models for their value in biomedical research. We also have a strong interest in killifish models, particularly those of short-lived species. In addition, we are interested in issues related to sustainability, including the implementation of vegetative roof technologies.
We have several major thrusts of research in our laboratory. These thrusts include:
- Understanding the effects of nutrition and the environment on the body composition and physiological function of aquatic organisms. Primary thrusts involve mechanisms leading to or preventing obesity.
- Development of standard reference and experimental diets for zebrafish, killifish (including Nothobranchius), and sea urchins. These studies will lead us to understand the role of specific nutrients affecting development, growth, and health of parental and offspring populations.
- Evaluating causative factors, including nutrition and environmental toxicants, affecting longevity in short-lived models.
- Using nanotechnologies to develop nutrient and drug delivery systems in aquatic animals.
- Understanding the nutrition and physiology of reproduction and growth in sea urchins. These organisms represent a developing aquaculture and fisheries opportunity in the Gulf of Mexico and the US.
- Evaluating fetal alcohol syndrome in aquatic model organisms.
- Investigating the environmental physiology, growth, nutrition and digestive physiology of species important in aquaculture, including tilapia, crayfish, penaeid shrimp and freshwater prawns. Increased knowledge of these economically important organisms can lead to enhanced aquaculture practices.
- Developing vegetative roof technologies for widespread use in the southeast. Vegetative roofs can be important in reducing non-point source pollutants that can affect aquatic and marine ecosystems.
- Resource sustainability.
Croll, S.L. and S.A. Watts. 2004. The effect of temperature on feed consumption and nutrient absorption in Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus. J. World Aquaculture. 35(4), 478-488.
Hammer, H.S., S.A. Watts, R. Desmond, A.L. Lawrence and J.M. Lawrence. 2006. The effect of dietary protein concentration on the consumption, survival, growth and production of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. Aquaculture 254, 483-495.
Hammer, H.S., B. Hammer, S.A. Watts, A.L. Lawrence and J.M. Lawrence. 2006. The effect of dietary protein and carbohydrate concentration on the biochemical composition and gametogenic condition of the sea urchin, Lytechinus variegatus. J. exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol. 334, 109-121.
Gibbs, V.K., S.A. Watts and A.L. Lawrence. 2007. The effect of temperature on gamete production and biochemical composition of gonads in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus fed a formulated diet. Gulf of Mexico Science 25, 119-130.
S.A. Watts., M. L. Powell, A. L. Lawrence, J. M. Lawrence. 2007. Sea Urchin Culture -- Emerging Species Yields Roe; Supports Medical Modeling, Environmental Testing. Global Aquaculture Advocate. Jan/Feb. pp. 22-24.
Jennings, N.A., L. Pezzementi, A.L. Lawrence and S.A. Watts. 2008. Acetylcholinesterase in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus: characterization and developmental expression in larvae. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. B 149, 401-409.
Lawrence, J.M., Xueben Cao, Yaqing Chang, Ping Wang, Y. Yu, A.L. Lawrence and S.A. Watts. 2009. Temperature effect on feed consumption, absorption, and assimilation efficiencies and production of the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus intermedius. J. Shellfish Research 28(2), 389-395.
Siccardi, A.J., H.W. Garris, W.T. Jones, D.B. Moseley, L.R. D’Abramo and S.A. Watts. 2009. Growth and survival of zebrafish (Danio rerio) fed different commercial and laboratory diets. Zebrafish 6(3), 275-280.
Gibbs, V.K., S.A. Watts, A.L. Lawrence and J.M. Lawrence. 2009. Dietary phospholipids affect growth and production by the juvenile sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. Aquaculture 292, 95-103.
S.A. Watts, J.M. Lawrence, and A.L. Lawrence. 2010. Approaches to the study of sea urchin nutrition. In Harris, L.G, S.A. Boettger, C.W. Walker and M.P. Lesser (eds.) Proceedings of the 12th International Echinoderm Conference, Durham, New Hampshire. CRC Press/Balkema. pp. 331-345.
S.A. Watts, S.C. Hofer, Renee A. Desmond, A.L. Lawrence and J.M. Lawrence. (in press). The effect of temperature on feeding and growth characteristics of the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus fed a formulated diet. J. exp. Mar. Biol. Ecol.
Nelson, R.W., M. Nipper, A.L. Lawrence and S.A. Watts. 2010. Effect of embryological development response to toxicants with the sea urchin Arbacia punctulata. Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology. 84, 71-75.
Powell, M.L. and S.A. Watts. 2010. Response to long-term nutrient deprivation and recovery in the crayfish Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus (Crustacea, Decapoda): Component and Proximate Analyses. J. World Aqua. 41(1), 71-80.
Powell, M.L. and S.A. Watts. 2010. Response to long-term nutrient deprivation and recovery in the crayfish Procambarus clarkii and Procambarus zonangulus (Crustacea, Decapoda): Oxygen consumption and metabolic enzymes. J. World Aqua. 41(1), 81-91.
Jones, W.T, M.L. Powell, V.K. Gibbs, H.S. Hammer, J.M. Lawrence, J. Fox, A.L. Lawrence and S.A. Watts. (2010). The effect of dietary selenium on weight gain and gonad production in the sea urchin Lytechinus variegatus. J. World Aqua. Soc. 41(5): 675-686.
Siccardi, A.J. III, S. Padgett-Vasquez, H.W. Garris, Tim R. Nagy, L.R. D’Abramo and S.A. Watts. In press. Dietary strontium increases bone mineral density in intact zebrafish (Danio rerio): A potential model for bone research. Zebrafish
S.A. Watts., J. B. McClintock and J.M. Lawrence. 2007. Ecology of Lytechinus. In: Edible Sea Urchins: Biology and Ecology (2nd Ed), J.M. Lawrence (ed.). Elsevier Press. pp. 473-498.
Marsh, A. and S.A. Watts. 2007. Energy metabolism and reproduction. In: In: Edible Sea Urchins: Biology and Ecology (2nd Ed), J.M. Lawrence (ed.). Elsevier Press. pp. 35-54.
Lawrence, A.L, S.A. Watts and J.M. Lawrence. 2007. Feeding, digestion and digestibility. In: In: Edible Sea Urchins: Biology and Ecology (2nd Ed), J.M. Lawrence (ed.). Elsevier Press. pp. 135-158.