Diet type influences the gut microbiome and nutrient assimilation of genetically improved farmed tilapia (oreochromis niloticus)

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Nile tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus is the third most commonly farmed finfish species in the world, accounting for nearly 5% of global aquaculture production. In the past few decades much of the success of this species has been attributed to the development and distribution of Genetically Improved Farmed Tilapia (GIFT). Despite the increasing availability of GIFT, the productivity of small-scale farming remains highly variable, particularly in developing nations. Commercial fish-feed pellets can increase fish farm productivity; however, many small-scale farmers rely on other means of feeding fish due to the high cost and limited availability of commercial fish feed pellets. Therefore, understanding how locally-sourced feeds affect the production of GIFT is an important step towards improving feeding practices, particularly for farmers with low financial capital. This study used stable isotope analysis (SIA) and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to compare the effects of a locally-sourced vegetable-based diet and commercial pellet-based diets on the relative condition, nutrient assimilation patterns and gastrointestinal microbiota of GIFT. GIFT fed a locally-sourced diet were smaller, and in a significantly poorer condition than those fed with commercial fish feeds. SIA showed no differences in dietary carbon between the two diets; however, δ13C, poor fish condition and the abundance of specific bacterial taxa (of such as Fusobacteria) were correlated. SIA revealed that GIFT fed locally-sourced diets that predominantly consisted of vegetables were significantly enriched in δ15N despite a perceived lack of dietary protein. This enrichment suggests that GIFT fed a locally-sourced diet may be supplementing their diet via cannibalism, a behaviour representative of poor farming practice. Overall this study highlights the need to increase the availability of suitable GIFT feeds in developing nations. The development a low-cost feed alternative could improve the success of small-scale GIFT farmers in PNG, increasing both food and income security within the region. © 2020 Parata et al. Open access under CC Attribution licence
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Fishing industry, Aquaculture, Genetics, Fisheries, Pellets, Stable isotopes, Diet, Vegetables
Parata, L., Mazumder, D., Sammut, J., & Egan, S. (2020). Diet type influences the gut microbiome and nutrient assimilation of genetically improved farmed tilapia (oreochromis niloticus). PLOS ONE, 15(8), e0237775. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0237775