European eel larvae feeding in Kreisel tanks. Photo: Sune Riis Sørensen

PhD defence about European eel larval quality and feeding regime in culture

Wednesday 04 May 22


Elisa Benini
Research Assistant
DTU Aqua
+45 31 96 49 63


Jonna Tomkiewicz
Senior Researcher
DTU Aqua
+45 35 88 34 08

The PhD thesis

A copy of the thesis "European eel larval quality and feeding regime: Establishing first-feeding culture" is available for reading at DTU Aqua. Please contact PhD secretary Karin Stubgaard,

On 10 May 2022, Elisa Benini will defend her PhD thesis. It is possible to attend the defence at DTU in Lyngby or online.

European eel is a high-value species for aquaculture, however production relies on wild-caught glass eels that are farmed to marketable size. The natural eel stock has declined to a critical level rendering capture-based farming unsustainable. Therefore, efforts are made to replace this practice by production of offspring from captive-bred broodstock. 

Research-based technology has recently enabled a stable production of viable offspring. Here, a gap of knowledge about early larval stages and their requirements is a challenge, especially in relation to their nutrition. Experimental work is therefore needed to develop feeds and feeding regimes that can sustain larval development and growth under hatchery conditions.

Elisa Benini’s PhD project at DTU Aqua has focused on factors affecting the quality of offspring, digestive physiology and feeding capacity of European eel larvae. She has studied the influence of assisted reproduction on offspring quality and investigated the possibility of “promoting” the maturation of the gut by either adding probiotic and prebiotic or by introduction of feed earlier than the first feeding stage and full digestive capacity. Furthermore, her studies have explored the suitability of different diets and feeding regimes for first-feeding eel larvae.

Elisa Benini concludes that her results will be important for further work on first feeding culture and the nutritional requirement of European larvae, but she also points out that the rearing conditions needs to be further developed to manage the bacterial load in feeding larval culture.

About the defence

Elisa Benini, DTU Aqua will defend her PhD thesis "European eel larval quality and feeding regime: Establishing first-feeding culture" on Tuesday 10 May 2022, 13:00 at DTU Lyngby, building 101, room S04 and on Zoom. Registration is mandatory – learn more at the bottom of the page. 


  • Principal supervisor: Senior Researcher Jonna Tomkiewicz, DTU Aqua
  • Co-supervisor: Senior Researcher Sofia Alexandra Dias Engrola, CCMAR, Portugal
  • Co-supervisor: Researcher Sebastian Nikitas Politis, DTU Aqua
  • Co-supervisor: Professor Anders Nielsen, DTU Aqua
  • Senior Researcher Manuel Gesto, DTU Aqua (chair)
  • Senior Research Scientist Maria J. Darias, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, France
  • Professor Alessio Bonaldo, University of Bologna, Italy
Chairperson at defence
  • Associate Professor Francesca Bertolini, DTU Aqua
Learn more

Download popular science summary of Elisa Benini's thesis

Sign up for the defence by 9 May

You must register to participate in the defence – both the physical and the online defence. Please e-mail Linda Stuhr Christensen, by Monday 9 May at 13:00 and state if you want to participate physically or online.

You'll receive an e-mail confirming your registration, including a link for online participation.