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Keywords:

  • Atlantic salmon;
  • epidermal mucus;
  • mass spectrometry;
  • proteomics;
  • sea lice;
  • biomarker

Abstract

Health diets that contain immunostimulants and other functional ingredients can strengthen the immune response in Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar, and thereby reduce sea lice, Lepeophtheirus salmonis, infection levels. Such diets can be used to supplement other treatments and will potentially reduce the need for delousing and medication. A sea lice infection trial was conducted on fish with an average weight of 215 g. One control diet and four experimental diets containing functional ingredients were produced. The diets were fed to salmon for 4 weeks before infection with sea lice copepodids. When lice had developed to chalimus III/IV, 88 fish per diet were examined for lice loads. Mucus samples from fish fed the different diets were taken before and after lice infection. Mass spectrometry–based proteomics was used to characterize the protein composition in the epidermal mucus of Atlantic salmon and to identify quantitative alterations in protein expression. Multivariate analysis of the generated data sets was performed to identify protein biomarkers. Putative biomarkers associated with functional feed intake and with sea lice infection have been identified and can form the basis for strategic validation experiments with selected functional feeds.