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Intl Study Finds Way That Allows Fish to Grow Bigger

An international study led by the National Research Council's State Agency (CSIC) has identified a genetic mechanism that allows for larger fish in aquaculture without causing them to increase their levels of body fat or modify their lipid profile.

The results of this study, published in the journal Hormones and Behaviour, will help further research on the factors that control the growth and feed efficiency of cultured fish and will open new avenues towards sustainability of animal production systems, as experts point out.

"By blocking the hormone system in zebrafish, the neural systems that regulate satiety are modified, so that these animals could eat more. When they fed with the same amount of food as the unmodified fish, their weight increases by up to 60 per cent and they grow an additional 15 per cent in length, showing greater feed efficiency," explains CSIC researcher Jose Miguel Cerda of the Aquaculture Institute Torre de la Sal.

Improvements in feed efficiency, feeding strategies and growth of farmed species represent today a priority in the aquaculture field, since its sustainability and fish availability in the market at affordable rates depend on it.

"The mechanism identified in the study is based on the inhibition of melanocortin hormone system. This system also controls the fish’s dorsal-ventral pigmentation so the transgenic specimens are easily identifiable," adds CSIC researcher Josep Rotllant of the Marine Research Institute in Vigo. This feature distinguishes them from transgenic salmon whose marketing without special labelling was approved in late 2015 by the US government.

"In addition, unlike the zebra fish in our work, transgenic salmon need to eat more to further grow and their appearance is the same as that of their unmodified counterparts," says Cerda.

This study was also joined by the University of Vigo, the Biochemistry and Physiology Evolutionary Institute of St. Petersburg (Russia), Norwegian Institute of Food, Fisheries and Aquaculture Research  and Vanderbilt University (US).


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