Short- and long-term low-salinity acclimation effects on the branchial and intestinal gene expression in the European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax)

Fotini Kokou, Pazit Con, Assaf Barki, Tali Nitzan, Tatiana Slosman, Itzhak Mizrahi, Avner Cnaani

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18 Scopus citations


The European seabass (Dicentrarchus labrax) is a teleost remarkably adapted to a wide range of water salinity, through osmoregulatory mechanisms, mainly operating in the gills and the intestine. As an important aquaculture species, its rearing in low-salinity conditions offers benefits for its inland culture. However, this demands a full comprehension of the European seabass osmoregulatory mechanisms and its response to acclimation protocols. The purpose of this study was to evaluate different acclimation protocols in terms of osmoregularity and stress response, following transferring of European seabass juveniles from seawater to freshwater. In addition, nutrient absorption was also examined since drinking rates are sensitive to salinity. The acclimation challenge was applied through three protocols: direct transfer (0 h) to freshwater, gradual transfer during 3 h and during 72 h. The short- (1 h after complete change to freshwater) and long-term effects (after 2 months) of each acclimation protocol were evaluated by assessing the expression of 1. The osmoregulatory genes: Na+/K+-ATPase α1, Na+/K+/2Cl 1 co-transporter, aquaporins 1 and 3, and the cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator; 2. The heat shock protein 70 gene; 3. The peptide transporter genes corresponding to PepT1a, PepT1b and PepT2. The short-term acclimation response was pronounced in both gills and the intestine affecting stress-, osmoregulatory- and nutrient-related gene expression. Long-term effects were only evident in the intestine. Direct transfer in freshwater mainly induced a long-term stress response, while the short-term effect was more pronounced in the 3 h-transfer, potentially due to handling. Our results suggest that although the European seabass can withstand direct transfer to low-salinity conditions, a gradual transfer is recommended to prevent long-term stress effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalComparative Biochemistry & Physiology; A: Comparative Physiology
StatePublished - 1 May 2019


  • Acclimation
  • Osmoregulation
  • Protein absorption
  • Salinity
  • Stress


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