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Energy reserves during food deprivation and compensatory growth in juvenile roach: the importance of season and temperature

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The effect of 21 days of starvation, followed by a period of compensatory growth during refeeding, was studied in juvenile roach Rutilus rutilus during winter and summer, at 4, 20 and 27° C acclimation temperature and at a constant photoperiod (12L : 12D). Although light conditions were the same during summer and winter experiments and fish were acclimated to the same temperatures, there were significant differences in a range of variables between summer and winter. Generally winter fish were better prepared to face starvation than summer fish, especially when acclimated at a realistic cold season water temperature of 4° C. In winter, the cold acclimated fish had a two to three‐fold larger relative liver size with an approximately double fractional lipid content, in comparison to summer animals at the same temperature. Their white muscle protein and glycogen concentration, but not their lipid content, were significantly higher. Season, independent of photoperiod or reproductive cycle, was therefore an important factor that determined the physiological status of the animal, and should generally be taken into account when fish are acclimated to different temperature regimes. There were no significant differences between seasons with respect to growth. Juvenile roach showed compensatory growth at all three acclimation temperatures with maximal rates of compensatory growth at 27° C. The replenishment of body energy stores, which were utilized during the starvation period, was responsible for the observed mass gain at 4° C. The contribution of the different energy resources (protein, glycogen and lipid) was dependent on acclimation temperature. In 20 and 27° C acclimated roach, the energetic needs during food deprivation were met by metabolizing white muscle energy stores. While the concentration of white muscle glycogen had decreased after the fasting period, the concentrations of white muscle lipid and protein remained more or less constant. The mobilization of protein and fat was revealed by the reduced size of the muscle after fasting, which was reflected in a decrease in condition factor. At 20° C, liver lipids and glycogen were mobilized, which caused a decrease both in the relative liver size and in the concentration of these substrates. Liver size was also decreased after fasting in the 4° C acclimated fish, but the substrate concentrations remained stable. This experimental group additionally utilized white muscle glycogen during food deprivation. Almost all measured variables were back at the control level within 7 days of refeeding.
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Keywords: energy metabolism; fish; season; specific growth rate; starvation; temperature

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: Leibniz Institute of Freshwater Ecology and Inland Fisheries, P. O. Box 850119, 12561 Berlin, Germany

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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