Dr Nigel Preston

Dr Nigel Preston CSIRO Food Futures Flagship

Dr Nigel Preston: advancing beef and aquaculture production

Dr Nigel Preston is researching ways to enhance beef and aquaculture breeding practices with his team working to produce better cattle, prawns, salmon and abalone.

  • 7 August 2011 | Updated 9 January 2014

In this article

  1. Overview
  2. Publishing History


Page 1 of 2

Current activities

Dr Nigel Preston is Acting Director of the Food Futures Flagship and leader of the Breed Engineering theme, focused on improving Australia’s beef and aquaculture industries.

With expertise in marine biology, genetics, research and management, Dr Nigel Preston is an acknowledged world authority in aquaculture and has contributed to the sustainable growth of aquaculture industries in both Australia and overseas.

Dr Nigel Preston is Acting Director of the Food Futures Flagship and leader of the Breed Engineering theme, focused on improving Australia’s beef and aquaculture industries.

As Theme Leader, Dr Preston brings to this role in-depth experience in managing collaborative research projects, breeding expertise and management.

His experience in assembling multi-divisional, multidisciplinary research teams to tackle key research issues will be invaluable in developing this important and challenging portfolio.

The Flagship's breed engineering research is focused on two principal areas:

  • beef reproductive systems and management
  • aquaculture breed enhancement.

The goal is to produce high-value, elite genotypes through innovation at 'critical control points' in the production sector of the animal protein value chain for both beef and aquaculture species.

These include:

  • a new approach to artificial insemination to generate calves with optimal genetic traits for their production environment
  • producing higher value muscle types in beef cattle
  • determining the genetic processes that control growth, nutrition, health, gender, reproduction and market quality in farmed fish, molluscs and crustaceans
  • incorporating this knowledge into high impact selective breeding programs with industry partners.


Dr Preston’s research experience and interests include:

  • embryology
  • larval biology
  • marine ecology
  • environmental management of aquaculture
  • the development and application of  genetic improvement techniques in aquaculture.

Dr Preston’s Flagship portfolio represents one of the organisation's largest geographical footprints, stretching from prawn breeds research in Brisbane, to beef research based in Armidale, New South Wales, and salmon, abalone and oyster breeding programs in Hobart, Tasmania.

He sees his work with Food Futures as a natural extension of his career in science research and management, with new challenges in critical thinking and nurturing partnerships that deliver practical outcomes for agriculture and aquaculture.

Research and industry partnerships have proven vital to Dr Preston's research in domesticating the Giant Tiger prawn, relieving the dependency of Australian prawn farmers on wild broodstock.

Subsequent genetic improvements made through selective breeding have improved reproductive performance by 200 per cent and doubled the harvest yields of domesticated farmed prawns. 

Other collaborative work led by Dr Preston has supported coastal aquaculture by easing conflicts between prawn farmers and environmental regulators.

Academic qualifications

Dr Preston has been awarded a:

  • Bachelor of Science with First Class Honours from University College of North Wales, Bangor, United Kingdom (UK)
  • Doctor of Philosophy.

His doctoral studies addressed factors affecting the survival of the larvae of the Penaeid prawns; Penaeus plebejus, Metapenaeus bennettae and M. macleayi.

He also qualified as a Navigating Officer with the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, in the UK.


Dr Preston was closely involved in a multi-disciplinary project that modified pond management, stocking and financial practices to reduce the risks of rice-prawn production in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam.

Through this work Dr Preston has contributed to the economic and environmental sustainability of Vietnam’s prawn farming industry.

Dr Preston has also been recognised with:

  • serving on the International Committee for Offshore Aquaculture Development, 2005
  • being made Adjunct Professor Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland, 2004
  • being the recipient of a One-CSIRO Award for role in establishing Food Futures Flagship, 2003
  • being made Chair of World Aquaculture Society Working Group on Shrimp Breeding and Genetics, 2002.

He has also been

  • on the Editorial board of Marine Ecology Progress Series, 2000
  • Associate Editor Journal of the World Aquaculture Society, 1999.

Learn more about CSIRO's Food Futures Flagship.