Physiological management of dietary deficiency in n-3 fatty acids by spawning Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis)

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Lipid dynamics of spawning fish are critical to the production of viable embryos and larvae. The present study utilized manipulation of dietary fatty acid (FA) profiles to examine the ability of spawning Gulf killifish (Fundulus grandis) to mobilize critical lipid components from somatic reserves or synthesize long-chain polyunsaturated FAs (LC-PUFAs) de novo from shorter-chain C18 precursors. An egg and multi-tissue evaluation of changes in FA concentrations across time after fish were switched from LC-PUFA-rich to LC-PUFA-deficient experimental diets was employed. The two experimental diets contained lipid sources which differed drastically in n-3 C18 FA content but had similar levels of n-6 C18 FAs. Discrete effects of dietary n-3 FAs can be analyzed because n-3 and n-6 represent distinct metabolic families which cannot be exchanged in vivo. Results indicate that a combination of mobilization and de novo synthesis is likely utilized to maintain physiologically required FA levels in critical tissues and embryos. Mobilization was supported by decreases in LC-PUFAs in somatic tissues and decreases in intraperitoneal fat content and liver mass. Evidence for biosynthesis was provided by a higher level of n-3 LC-PUFAs in the liver and ova of fish fed diets containing n-3 C18 precursors versus those fed diets with low levels of precursor FAs. The characteristic physiological plasticity of Gulf killifish is exemplified in the nutritional domain by its management of dietary FA deficiency.

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Fish physiology and biochemistry

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