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What Can Rainbow Trout Tell Us About Enteritis?

Can trout teach us something about gastroenteritis?

Photo: CC--NFWS 08/22/2017 - The main source of protein in aquaculture feeds is fishmeal, which is expensive and not conducive to the long-term growth of the industry. Plant protein is much cheaper.

However, replacing fishmeal with a plant-based diet reduces salmonid growth, and soy and other legumes can cause severe enteritis in the fish.

Most rainbow trout are carnivores. Trout do fine on fishmeal, but trout fed a soy-based diet will usually develop gastroenteritis and other problems. One particular strain of trout, however, seems to tolerate soy just fine. Why?

Researchers recently set out to identify genes critical to the rainbow trout strain's tolerance of a soy-based diet. The research team included Jason Abernathy and Ken Overturf from USDA-ARS, USA, and colleagues.

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For their study, the research team compared non-selected and selected rainbow trout raised for 12 weeks on either a fishmeal-based feed or a high-soy, all plant-protein feed.

They then conducted a functional genetic analyses that included differential gene expression, co-expression, and metabolic pathway mapping in muscle and liver tissue. The team found 63 candidate genes that enable trout to tolerate a high-soy diet. The genes may help researchers to uncover and promote plant-diet tolerance in fish.

The researchers also identified risk loci, which are implicated in human inflammatory bowel diseases, suggesting that rainbow trout selected for plant-diet tolerance may provide a biomedical model for better understanding ulcerative colitis and celiac disease.

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