Physiological effects in juvenile three-spined sticklebacks feeding on toxic cyanobacterium Nodularia spumigena-exposed zooplankton
Feeding rate, growth and nutritional condition as well as nodularin concentration of juvenile three-spined sticklebacks Gasterosteus aculeatus were assessed in an experimental study where field-collected fish were given a diet of zooplankton fed with toxic Nodularia spumigena for 15 days. Food consumption was higher in N. spumigena bloom conditions compared with the cyanobacterium-free control, but despite this the growth rate of exposed fish did not improve. Control fish and fish fed N. spumigena-exposed zooplankton had higher RNA:DNA ratios and protein content than fish grown in cyanobacterial bloom conditions indicating good nutritional condition and recent growth of fish, whereas in bloom conditions metabolic transformation of nodularin to less toxic compounds may cause an energetic cost to the fish affecting the growth rate of the whole organism. Juvenile three-spined sticklebacks collected from the field contained higher concentrations of nodularin at the beginning of the experiment (mean 503·1 g kg−1). After 15 days, the lowest nodularin concentrations in fish were measured in the control treatment, suggesting that fish fed with non-toxic food are able to detoxify nodularin from their tissues more effectively than fish in continuing exposure.