Robert Devlin

Image Devlin, Robert
Research Scientist

Director, Centre for Aquatic Biotechnology Regulatory Research (CABRR)

Current research and/or projects

A recent focus of my research has been the application of molecular and general genetics and genomics to questions in salmonid biology, with a focus on environmental risk assessment of genetically distinct finfish and evaluation of the genetic basis of domestication.

Research and/or project statements

Specific projects include:

  1. Production of transgenic salmonids with enhanced production traits for growth and feed-conversion efficiency, disease resistance, and flesh quality, with an emphasis on providing objective scientific information from which the potential and the risks associated with this technology may be evaluated;
  2. Development of sensitive and specific molecular diagnostic assays for genetic sex (Y-probes), stress and pollution-response markers, and several specific parasitic pathogens that infect wild and farmed salmonids;
  3. Evaluation of the genetic basis of domestication in salmonids;
  4. Determining the genetic relationship among species and strains of salmonids, and application of variable molecular markers to quantitative traits (e.g. precocious maturation) for breeding purposes;
  5. Developmentand evaluation of biological containment methodologies.

Professional activities / interests

  • 2007-present: Director, DFO Centre for Aquatic Biotechnology Regulatory Research (CABRR)

  • 2004: Research Scientist 5, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory.

  • 1999: Research Scientist 4, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory.

  • 1997: Research Scientist 3, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory.

  • 1995-present: Adjunct Professor, Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.

  • 1992-2000: Adjunct Professor, Department of Biology, Simon Fraser University.

  • 1992: Research Scientist 2, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory.

  • 1989: Research Scientist 1, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, West Vancouver Laboratory.

  • 1988-1989: MRC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of British Columbia.

  • 1986-1988: Postdoctoral Research Fellow,Department of Zoology, University of Washington.

  • 1985-1986: NSERC Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Dept. Biology, Simon Fraser University.

  • 1978: TechnicianDr. D. McPhail; Department of Zoology, University of British Columbia.

Education and awards


  • B.Sc. Zoology (1978), University of British Columbia
  • Ph.D. Zoology (1984), University of British Columbia


  • David Bevan Outstanding Career Distinction Award 2019
  • American Fisheries Society Stevan R. Phelps Award for Best Genetics Manuscript 2017
  • Fisheries and Oceans Assistant Deputy Minister Distinction Award 2016
  • Fisheries and Oceans Canada  Manuscript of the Year 2015
  • Murray A. Newman Award (Vancouver Aquarium) for Significant Achievement in Aquatic Research 2013
  • Fisheries and Oceans “Golden Microphone” Award for Science Communication 2012
  • Fisheries and Oceans Immediate Award for Aquatic Biotechnology Regulatory Research 2011
  • Prix d’Excellence Award (DFO) 2009
  • ADM Science (DFO) Award of Distinction 2007
  • Fisheries and Oceans Immediate Award for Aquatic Biotechnology Regulatory Research 20007
  • Health Canada Award for Creativity and Innovation 2006
  • America Fisheries Society Stevan R. Phelps Award for Best Genetics Manuscript 2006
  • American Fisheries Society Robert L. Kendall Award Best Paper in Trans. Am. Fish. Soc. 2005
  • America Fisheries Society Stevan R. Phelps Award for Best Genetics Manuscript 2005
  • R.E. Forster Fisheries and Oceans Canada Best Paper Award 2002
  • Award, Fisheries and Oceans Canada 2002
  • Kosuge Memorial Lectureship and Award, University of California, Davis. 1998
  • Deputy Minister's Commendation (DFO)  1997.
  • Merit Award, Fisheries and Oceans Canada  1993.
  • Medical Research Council Postdoctoral Fellowship  1988-1989.
  • NSERC Postdoctoral Fellowship   1985-1987.


International experience and/or work

See publications

Key publications

Primary (journal) publications:  (224)

Kim JH, Macqueen DJ, Winton JR, Hansen JD, Park H, Devlin RH. 2019. Effect of growth rate on transcriptomic responses to immune stimulation in wild-type, domesticated, and GH-transgenic coho salmon. BMC Genomics 20: Article number 1024.

Leggatt, RA and Devlin RH. 2019. Fluorescent protein transgenesis has varied effects on behaviour and cold tolerance in a tropical fish (Gymnocorymbus ternetzi) – implications for risk assessment. Fish Physiol. Biochem. (in press).

Lehnert SJ, Christensen K, Vandersteen WE, Sakhrani D, Pitcher TE, Heath JW, Koop BF, Heath DD, and Devlin RH. 2019. Why salmon are red? Variation in a major effect locus – beta-carotene oxygenase 2-like. Proc R Soc B (in press).

Novales Flamarique I, Ahmed AS, Cheng CL, Molday RS, | Devlin RH. 2019. Growth hormone regulates opsin expression in the retina of a salmonid fish. J. Neuroendocrinology DOI: 10.1111/jne.12804

Semeniuk CAD, Capelle PM,  Dender MG, Devlin RH, Dixon B, Drown J, Heath J, Hepburn R, Higgs DM, Janisse K, Lehnert S, Love OP, Mayrand J, Mickle M, Pitcher TE, Neff B, Semple SL, Smith JL, S Toews, Wellband K, and Heath D. 2019. Domestic-wild hybridization to improve aquaculture performance in Chinook salmon. Aquaculture (in press).

Noble S, Boratynska S, Saxena V, Devlin RH, Marc Ekker M. 2019. Dnd shRNA constructs cause altered PGC migration but fail to sterilize. Aquaculture (in press).

Devos Y, Craig W, Devlin RH, Ippolito A, Leggatt RA, Romeis J, Shaw R, Svendsen C, Topping CJ. 2019. Using problem formulation for fit-for-purpose pre-market environmental risk assessments of regulated stressors. EFSA Journal:  doi: 10.2903/j.efsa.2019.e170708

Causey DR,  Devlin RH, Kim J, Martin, SAM, Macqueen DJ. 2019. The AMPK system of salmonid fishes was expanded through genome duplication and is regulated by growth and immune status in muscle. Scientific Reports doi 10.1038/s41598-019-46129-4.

Muttray, AF, Donaldson EM, Devlin RH. 2019. Effects of recombinant salmon type II growth hormone and bovine growth hormone on growth of coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch). Fish Physiol. Biochem. (in press).

Nakano T, Shirakawa H, Yeo G, Devlin RH, Soga T. 2019. Metabolome Profiling of Growth Hormone Transgenic Coho Salmon by Capillary Electrophoresis Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometry. Chapter 18. In: K. Teruhisa et al. (eds.), Oceanography Challenges to Future Earth.

Christensen KA, Sakhrani D, Rondeau EB, Richards J, Koop BF, Devlin RH. 2019. Effect of triploidy on liver gene expression in coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) under different metabolic states. BMC Genomics (in press)

Vandersteen, WL, Leggatt, R, Sundström, LF, Devlin RH. 2019. Importance of Experimental Environmental Conditions in Estimating 1 Risks and Associated Uncertainty of Transgenic Fish Prior to Entry into Nature. Nature Scientific Reports (in press).

Watson BM, Biagi CA, Northrup SL, Ohata MLA, Charles C, Blanchfield4 PJ, Johnston SV, Askey PJ, Van Poorten BT, and Devlin RH.  2019. Distinct diel and seasonal behaviours in rainbow trout detected by fine-scale acoustic telemetry in a lake environment. Can. J. Fish. Aquat. Sci. (in press).

Kodama M, Naish, KA. and Devlin RH. 2018.  Influence of a growth hormone transgene on the genetic architecture of growth-related traits: A comparative analysis between transgenic and wild-type coho salmon . Evol. Appl. 11: 1886-1900. DOI: 10.1111/eva.12692

Christensen KA, Rondeau EB, Minkley DR, Leong JS, Nugent CM, Danzmann RG, Ferguson MM, Stadnik A, Devlin RH, Muzzerall R, Edwards M, Davidson WS, and Koop BF. 2018. The Arctic charr (Salvelinus alpinus) genome and transcriptome assembly. PLOS ONE 13: Articlee0204076    .

Lehnert SJ, Garver KA, Richard J, Devlin RH, Lajoie C, Pitcher1 TE, and Heath DD. 2018. Significant differences in maternal carotenoid provisioning and effects on offspring fitness in Chinook salmon colour morphs. J. Evol. Biol.

Gaffney LP, Watson BM, Oakes JD, and Devlin RH. 2018. Internal Morphological Effects of Growth Hormone Transgenesis in Coho Salmon. Trans AM. Fish. Soc. DOI: 10.1002/tafs.10118.

Causey  DR, Kim JH, Stead DA, Martin SAM, Devlin RH, and Macqueen DJ.  2018. Selective breeding and growth hormone transgenesis drive rapid growth through distinct molecular pathways: a proteome-wide investigation. J. Proteomics

Benfey TJ and Devlin RH. 2018. Ploidy has minimal effect on hypoxia tolerance at high temperature in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 91: 1091-110.

Abdullah A, Kim JH, Devlin RH, Martin SAM, Macqueen DJ. 2018. Growth hormone transgenesis in coho salmon disrupts muscle immune function impacting cross-talk with growth systems. J. Exp. Biol. 221:  Article UNSP 173146.

Debode F, Eric Janssen E, Marien A, Devlin RH, Lieske K, Mankertz K, Berben G. 2018. Detection of transgenic Atlantic and Coho salmon by real-time PCR. Food Analytical Methods 11: 2396-2406.

Balbag BS, Tho Balbag BS, Thomas AC, Devlin RH, Schwarz D. 2018. Can sex-specific consumption of prey be determined from DNA in predator scat? Conservation Genetics Resources .

Christensen KA, Leong JS, Sakhrani1 D, Biagi1CA, Minkley DR, Withler RE, Rondeau EB, Koop BF, Devlin RH. 2018. Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) genome and transcriptome. PLOS ONE

Royle TCA, Sakhrani D, Speller CF, Butler VL, Devlin RH, Cannon A, and Yang DY. 2018. An Efficient and Reliable DNA-Based