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Zebrafish. 2013 Mar;10(1):87-98. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2012.0843.

Acclimation of zebrafish to transport stress.

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Faculty of Biosciences and Aquaculture, University of Nordland, Bodø, Norway.


Welfare of fish is commonly neglected when they are transported. This study examines the effect of a 72-h mock transport on certain aspects of the stress physiology of two groups of zebrafish-the first transported in water enriched with a nitrifying bacterial consortium and the second in water without the enrichment. Zebrafish were examined at different time points-before packing (BP), immediately after packing them in transport bags (AP), at the end of transport (AT), and 72 h thereafter (PT)-to assess the primary (cortisol) and secondary (glucose) stress responses. In addition, the relevant genes in hypothalamic-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis (crf in brain, mc2r, star, cyp11c1, and hsd11b2 in kidney), including that of mineralocorticoid receptor (mr in kidney), were studied. Procedures during packing caused an increase in whole body cortisol levels of both fish groups. Only in the fish transported without the bacterial consortium, an increase in the levels of whole body cortisol as well as blood glucose was observed at the end of the transport. At the same time point and in the same fish group, the transcripts of mr and hsd11b2 were enhanced, probably to cope with the stress and to maintain homeostasis. The mRNA levels of the other genes in the HPI stress axis (crf, mc2r, star, and cyp11c1) were not significantly altered. Zebrafish transported in water enriched with the bacterial consortium exhibited a speedier stress acclimation. Nevertheless, only through in-depth studies the beneficial effect of the consortium can be confirmed.

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