Virginia Institute of Marine Science
Dietary insufficiencies have been well documented to decrease growth rates and survival (and therefore overall production) in fish aquaculture. By contrast, the effects of dietary insufficiencies on the sensory biology of cultured fish remains largely unstudied. Diets based solely on plant protein sources could have advantages over fish-based diets because of the cost and ecological effects of the latter, but plant proteins lack the amino acid taurine. Adequate levels of taurine are, however, necessary for the development of a fully functional visual system in mammals. As part of ongoing studies to determine the suitability of plant-based diets, we investigated the effects of normal and reduced taurine dietary levels on retinal anatomy and function in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). We could not demonstrate any effects of dietary taurine level on retinal anatomy, nor the functional properties of luminous sensitivity and temporal resolution (measured as flicker fusion frequency). We did, however, find an effect on spectral sensitivity. The peak of spectral sensitivity of individuals fed a 5% taurine diet was rightward shifted (i.e., towards longer wavelengths) relative to that of fish fed a 0% or 1.5% taurine diet. This difference in in spectral sensitivity was due to a relatively lower level of middle wavelength pigment (maximum absorbance .500 nm) in fish fed a 5% taurine diet. Changes in spectral sensitivity resulting from diets containing different taurine levels are unlikely to be detrimental to fish destined for market, but could be in fishes that are being reared for stock enhancement programs.
dietary insufficiences, taurine deficiency, sea bass
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Brill, Richard; Horodysky, Andrij Z.; Place, Allen R.; Larkin, Mary E.; and Reimschuessel, Renate, Effects of dietary taurine level on visual function in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) (2019). PLoS ONE.