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Keywords:

  • Beluga;
  • co-feeding;
  • digestive system;
  • histology;
  • Huso huso;
  • ontogeny

Abstract

The study on histological characteristics of the digestive system of Beluga (Huso huso) was conducted from hatching until 50 days posthatching at 16.5 °C. Development of the digestive system in this species followed the general pattern described for other Acipenserids, although there were differences in the timing of organ development among species. At hatching, the mouth was opened and digestive system was represented by a gastric cavity filled with yolk and lined by endodermal cells, and a partially differentiated hindgut. Gastric glands started to differentiate at 46.5 degree- days posthatching (ddph), the earliest appearance time among sturgeon fishes studied to date. At the onset of exogenous feeding (144.9 ddph), yolk sac reserves were not completely depleted in the stomach, suggesting a period of mixed nutrition. The complete development of the digestive system was not accomplished until 235.2 ddph when it showed all histomorphological features typical of juvenile specimens. According to histological results, it seems advisable to start co-feeding H.huso larvae with inert diets at the onset of exogenous feeding, because exocrine pancreas and glandular stomach are fully differentiated, although the complete substitution of live prey by inert feed is not recommended until 235 ddph.