Impact of a plant-based diet on behavioural and physiological traits in sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Type Article
Date 2013-04
Language English
Author(s) Benhaim David1, Begout Marie-LaureORCID2, Pean Samuel2, Manca Michael2, Prunet Patrick3, Chatain Beatrice4
Affiliation(s) 1 : INTECHMER CNAM, LERMA, F-50103 Cherbourg, France.
2 : IFREMER, Lab Ressources Halieut, F-17137 Lhoumeau, France.
3 : INRA SCRIBE, Fish Biol Stress & Adaptat Grp, F-35042 Rennes, France.
4 : IFREMER, Lab Rech Piscicole Mediterranee, Stn Expt Aquaculture, F-34250 Palavas Les Flots, France.
Source Aquatic Living Resources (0990-7440) (Edp Sciences S A), 2013-04 , Vol. 26 , N. 2 , P. 121-131
DOI 10.1051/alr/2013049
WOS© Times Cited 5
Keyword(s) Self-feeder, Plant-based diet, Learning, Exploratory behaviour, Cortisol, Dicentrarchus labrax
Abstract Replacing aquaculture feeds based on fisheries-derived resources with plant-based diets could be a relevant strategy to improve the sustainability of aquaculture. Recent studies on sea bass have shown that the total and early replacement of marine products by plant products would have a moderate effect on fish growth and body lipid content. Whether a plant-based diet impacts behavioural and physiological traits possibly linked to fish welfare, is not known, however. Here, we studied the effect of a totally plant-based diet introduced at an early stage of sea bass development on self-feeding behaviour, learning ability in a T-maze and stress biomarkers. We first compared learning processes in self-feeding conditions, between naive fish fed a plant-based diet (PBF) and fish fed a classic marine diet (MF). Then, we tested fish individually in a T-maze to compare the two feed groups for swimming activity, exploration and the ability to learn to discriminate between two two-dimensional objects associated with a reward. Blood physiological variables, including stress indicators (cortisol and glucose concentrations), were also determined. We did not find any indications of differences in self-feeding behaviour between PBF and MF in the first 30 days. A second experiment showed similar swimming activities in both fish categories. The "no-choice" percentage was high in both fish categories (similar to 60%), but all the fish moved preferentially toward the reward. Their first turns indicated an ability to discriminate between two two-dimensional objects to complete a simple task. However, the high percentage of "no-choice" responses in both fish categories could have rendered the results non significant. The T-maze test procedure induced the production of high concentrations of cortisol, indicating acute stress in fish of both groups during testing. Plasma cortisol concentration was higher in MF than PBF, suggesting that the plant-based diet may affect the short-term release of cortisol. This study provides the first insight into the impact of a plant-based diet on sea bass behavioural traits, and confirms the effect of this diet on cortisol release in response to stress. Overall, in this first experiment, we did not find any major impact of a plant-based diet on sea bass behavioural traits, which is an interesting point for the development potential of such a sustainable aquaculture strategy.
Full Text
File Pages Size Access
Publisher's official version 11 366 KB Open access
Top of the page

How to cite 

Benhaim David, Begout Marie-Laure, Pean Samuel, Manca Michael, Prunet Patrick, Chatain Beatrice (2013). Impact of a plant-based diet on behavioural and physiological traits in sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Aquatic Living Resources, 26(2), 121-131. Publisher's official version : , Open Access version :