Effect of season, light regime and diet on muscle composition and selected quality parameters in farmed Atlantic cod, Gadus morhua L.


Correspondence: G-I Hemre, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research, PO Box 176, Sentrum, N-5804 Bergen, Norway. E-mail: Gro-Ingunn.Hemre@nifes.no


Effect of season and diet on muscle composition were evaluated in farmed Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.), fed varying levels of macro-nutrients, and kept at two different light regimes during 1 year grow-out in sea-cages. The cod were fed seven different diets varying in protein, lipid and starch, in a mixture design. The diets spanned 4–20% starch, 8–26% lipid and 36–66% protein. Each dietary regime was subjected to two different light regimes: continuous light (24 h), or natural light (August 2001 to June 2002). Fish subjected to natural light started to mature in December/January and spawning was more or less completed during March/April. No maturation was registered in the continuous light groups at this point. No variation was found in muscle dry matter, protein or lipid concentration as a consequence of the dietary or light regime variations, except for the groups spawning in March. Glycogen varied from 1 to 6.5 mg g−1 wet weight, without any correlation to the present dietary variations. At the June 2002 sampling all groups given a natural light regime showed almost twice the concentration of muscle glycogen compared with fish subjected to continuous light. Such clear results were not measured at the December or March samplings. Increased dietary lipid resulted in lowered muscle vitamin E concentration. A strong covariation between muscle vitamins C and E was found at all samplings, and these showed a negative correlation towards eicosapentaenoic (EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), and the ratio n-3/n-6 in muscle. The highest dietary vitamin E resulted in the lowest muscle vitamin C concentrations. All dietary lipid added was identical and of marine origin; in addition, the wheat added as a starch source summed up parts of the dietary lipid fraction, resulting in slightly decreased sum of polyenes in the diets holding the highest levels of wheat. The lean cod muscle consists almost solely of membrane lipids. These were, however, highly influenced by the dietary lipid composition, especially as concerned the different monoenes. Two of the diets showed tendencies to increased thiobarbituric acid-reactive substances (TBARS). This was not reflected in the muscle concentrations of vitamins E or C, and did not result in any changes in muscle TBARS values at any of the samplings, except for the fish spawning in March. The water-soluble fraction of the muscle protein, pH range from 4.5 to 6, did show a difference in structure when comparing our experimental cod to wild cod. We could also identify a differential pattern between some of the experimental groups. The method used to identify this was, however, not quantitative, and further studies are needed. Taste panel evaluation and shear force measurements after final sampling in June concluded with minor differences between muscles from the different diet groups, except for fish given one diet with relatively high protein, intermediate lipid and low starch levels. Fish kept at continuous light was described as less firm (texture) compared with fish kept at natural light, explained partly by the different size of these two categories of fish. In conclusion, both diet and season (spawning or not) did influence several of the measured muscle parameters.