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Effects of the total replacement of fish-based diet with plant-based diet on the hepatic transcriptome of two European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) half-sibfamilies showing different growth rates with the plant-based diet

Florian Geay1, Serena Ferraresso2, Jose L Zambonino-Infante1, Luca Bargelloni2, Claire Quentel3, Marc Vandeputte45, Sachi Kaushik6, Chantal L Cahu1 and David Mazurais1*

Author affiliations

1 Ifremer, UMR 1067, Departement Physiologie Fonctionnelle des Organismes Marins, Technopôle Brest-Iroise, BP 70, 29280 Plouzané, France

2 Department of Public Health, Comparative Pathology, and Veterinary Hygiene, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, University of Padova, Vialedell'Università 16, 35020 Legnaro, Italy

3 Anses, Laboratoire de Ploufragan/Plouzané, Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'aliment, de l'environnement et du travail, Technopôle Brest-Iroise, 29 280 Plouzané, France

4 Ifremer, chemin de Maguelone, 34250 Palavas les Flots, France

5 INRA, UMR 1313 Génétique Animale et Biologie Intégrative, Domaine de Vilvert, 78350 Jouy-en-Josas, France

6 INRA-UMR Nutrition Aquaculture Génomique, Pôle Hydrobiologie, 64310 Saint Pée-sur-Nivelle, France

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2011, 12:522  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-522

Published: 23 October 2011



Efforts towards utilisation of diets without fish meal (FM) or fish oil (FO) in finfish aquaculture have been being made for more than two decades. Metabolic responses to substitution of fishery products have been shown to impact growth performance and immune system of fish as well as their subsequent nutritional value, particularly in marine fish species, which exhibit low capacity for biosynthesis of long-chain poly-unsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA). The main objective of the present study was to analyse the effects of a plant-based diet on the hepatic transcriptome of European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax).


We report the first results obtained using a transcriptomic approach on the liver of two half-sibfamilies of the European sea bass that exhibit similar growth rates when fed a fish-based diet (FD), but significantly different growth rates when fed an all-plant diet (VD). Overall gene expression was analysed using oligo DNA microarrays (GPL9663). Statistical analysis identified 582 unique annotated genes differentially expressed between groups of fish fed the two diets, 199 genes regulated by genetic factors, and 72 genes that exhibited diet-family interactions. The expression of several genes involved in the LC-PUFA and cholesterol biosynthetic pathways was found to be up-regulated in fish fed VD, suggesting a stimulation of the lipogenic pathways. No significant diet-family interaction for the regulation of LC-PUFA biosynthesis pathways could be detected by microarray analysis. This result was in agreement with LC-PUFA profiles, which were found to be similar in the flesh of the two half-sibfamilies. In addition, the combination of our transcriptomic data with an analysis of plasmatic immune parameters revealed a stimulation of complement activity associated with an immunodeficiency in the fish fed VD, and different inflammatory status between the two half-sibfamilies. Biological processes related to protein catabolism, amino acid transaminations, RNA splicing and blood coagulation were also found to be regulated by diet, while the expression of genes involved in protein and ATP synthesis differed between the half-sibfamilies.


Overall, the combined gene expression, compositional and biochemical studies demonstrated a large panel of metabolic and physiological effects induced by total substitution of both FM and FO in the diets of European sea bass and revealed physiological characteristics associated with the two half-sibfamilies.