Omega-3 metabolism of salmon in relation to diet and genetics

Atlantic salmon is a main source of essential ω-3 long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids (LC-PUFA) in many Western diets, especially eicosapentaenoic acid (20:5n-3, EPA) and docosahexaenoic acid (22:6n-3, DHA). However, farmed salmon meat now contains less healthy ω-3 fatty acids (FA) than before, due to the shift from marine to vegetable lipid feed sources. An important future aquaculture challenge is therefore to maintain a healthy and high EPA/DHA content when farmed salmon is fed a vegetable oil based diet. EPA/DHA content in filet is highly heritable on extreme diets, but the functional basis of this heritability is not known. While most EPA/DHA biosynthesis occurs in the liver and also probably in the small intestine, EPA/DHA must be transported and deposited in the filet to be of nutritional value to humans. The key to a high EPA/DHA level in the filet therefore lies not only in the synthesis, but also in the ability to transport these fatty acids and incorporate it into the filet. There are two possible strategies to ensure high and healthy ω-3 content in aquaculture salmon and at the same time restrict the use of marine FA sources in feed: Optimizing diet and feeding regimes, or breeding for higher capability to deposit ω-3 in muscle. Even better, the two strategies can be embraced in an integrated approach. However, because of the knowledge gaps in our understanding of the salmon FA metabolism and the complexity of the interaction between genetics and metabolism (nutrigenomics), robust mathematical systems biology models of salmon FA metabolism is needed to effectively utilize genome information to improve EPA/DHA content in salmon filet. These systems biology models can be used to predict optimal solutions for feeding regimes and feed composition given specific salmon genetics. Secondly, such models may result in new breeding targets (i.e. molecular phenotypes) for the use in aquaculture breeding programs.

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Created: 2nd Feb 2016 at 09:35

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