Digestive enzyme dynamics during early life stages of the mud crab, Scylla serrata and the spiny lobster, Panulirus ornatus

Genodepa, Jerome G. (2015) Digestive enzyme dynamics during early life stages of the mud crab, Scylla serrata and the spiny lobster, Panulirus ornatus. PhD thesis, James Cook University.

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The mud crab, Scylla serrata and the spiny lobster, Panulirus ornatus, are high value crustaceans in the tropics and sub-tropics of the Indo-Pacific region subject to intense fisheries pressure, particularly in Asia where no catch limits are imposed and fishery laws are often not strictly enforced. Because of increasing demand and dwindling fisheries landings, interest in aquaculture of both species has grown strongly over recent years. However, continued dependence on wild seed for stocking has been a major bottleneck for expansion and further development of aquaculture industries for both species. Hatchery techniques for these species have received significant research attention over recent years but considerable development is required to further improve survival and bring commercial viability to hatchery operations.

One of the most important yet poorly understood components of hatchery production of crustaceans is larval nutrition, particularly the aspects of larval nutritional requirements and digestive capacity. Larvae of aquatic animals, particularly early larvae, rely primarily on chemical digestion of ingested foods with the aid of enzymes. This study assayed the major digestive enzymes during larval development of both S. serrata and P. ornatus to assess larval capacity to digest major nutrients and to evaluate the relative utilization of these nutrients for energy: (a) during embryonic development and starvation of the newly hatched larvae (Chapter 3); (b) under different conditions of intermittent food availability (Chapter 4); (c) in response to different food quantity and quality (Chapter 5); and (d) at different stages of the moult cycle and larval ontogeny (Chapter 6).

Following the general introduction (Chapter 1) and general materials and methods (Chapter 2) sections, changes in activities of the three major digestive enzymes (amylase, protease and esterase) during embryonic development of S. serrata and P. ornatus, as well as in unfed newly hatched larvae, were examined in Chapter 3. For both species, esterase activities started to increase significantly during the early phase of embryonic development while amylase and protease activities remained at about the same levels, suggesting that lipids were the nutrients most heavily utilized during the early embryonic development in both species. However, towards the end of embryonic development, amylase and protease activities increased while esterase activities showed decreasing trends, suggesting that as lipid reserves were depleted and became insufficient to meet the increasing energy demand, protein reserves, and to some extent carbohydrates, were increasingly utilized. It was further shown that proteins continued to be the main energy source of newly hatched larvae during the initial phase of starvation for both S. serrata and P. ornatus as higher levels of protease compared to esterase and amylase were present in starved newly hatched larvae of both species.

Chapter 4 was designed to examine changes in the major digestive enzyme activities of first feeding larvae of S. serrata and P. ornatus subject to different food availability conditions: (a) when food was immediately available (fed) vs. when food was not immediately available (starved); (b) when food was initially available (fed) and then withdrawn; and (c) when initial feeding was delayed for different durations. These experiments were intended to obtain insights into how first feeding larvae manipulate their enzyme activities in order to adapt to various conditions of intermittent food availability likely to occur in their natural environment, which should provide useful information for the development of larval formulated diets and hatchery feeding protocols. The enzyme activity responses of first feeding zoeae of S. serrata suggested that protein reserves were the main energy source while no food was available, but where food is available, first feeding zoeae spared proteins and utilized carbohydrates and lipids more extensively. In starved zoeae, protease activity, which was comparably much higher than amylase and esterase activities, remained high throughout the 72 h sampling duration. In contrast, protease activity in fed zoeae initially decreased sharply to very low levels although it eventually increased prior to moulting. Meanwhile, amylase and esterase activities gradually increased, suggesting that fed larvae were possibly building-up protein reserves.

The enzyme reponses of first feeding P. ornatus phyllosoma suggest their ability to utilize all three major nutrients, i.e., carbohydrates, proteins and lipids, but also highlight their capacity to prioritise the use of carbohydrates when fed. This was illustrated by the immediate and notable increase in amylase activity in fed phyllosoma, which remained high over following days, however such a phenomenon was not observed in starved larvae. When food was removed after the phyllosoma were fed for 24 h, amylase activity decreased back to low levels, suggesting that the phyllosoma quickly responsed to the withdrawal of food by substantially reducing their utilization of carbohydrates and shifting to greater utilization of proteins and lipids.

Newly hatched zoeae of S. serrata and phyllosoma of P. ornatus both showed an ability to compensate for delayed food availability by increasing amylase activity when initial feeding was delayed for varying durations. Both specific and total amylase activities of newly hatched zoeae where feeding was delayed for a period of 12 h to 36 h, were significantly higher than those of larvae fed immediately after hatching for the same 12 h duration. In newly hatched phyllosoma where feeding was delayed for a period of 24 h before being fed for 24 h, both specific and total amylase activities were also significantly higher than those fed immediately after hatching for the same 24 h period. However, such a response was no longer observed when feeding was delayed beyond 24 h, suggesting that the ability of newly hatched phyllosoma to compensate for the delayed food intake diminished as the starvation period extended.

In Chapter 5, the digestive enzyme responses of larvae to quantity and quality of foods, particularly in terms of food density and food type were investigated. The results of this chapter clearly showed that both food quantity and quality significantly influenced larval digestive enzyme dynamics. Both S. serrata and P. ornatus larvae showed an ability to maximize the utilization of available food by increasing their digestive enzyme activities in response to increasing prey density. Comparison of enzyme activities of Zoea I S. serrata fed different densities of rotifers showed that the rotifer densities that resulted in maximal digestive enzyme activities fell within the range considered optimal for larval rearing of this species. A similar result was obtained for Stage I phyllosoma of P. ornatus fed different densities of Artemia nauplii. These results together suggest that digestive enzyme activity can be a good indicator of appropriate prey density used in larval rearing. The digestive enzyme responses of Zoea II and megalopae of S. serrata to different types of food helped identify their relative nutritional values to the larvae.

The digestive enzyme responses of Zoea II fed rotifers and Artemia, respectively, largely reflected the relative proximate contents of these two most commonly used hatchery prey. Similarly, the enzyme activities of megalopae fed either a microbound diet (MBD) developed in this laboratory or Artemia also indicated differences in digestibility and nutritional quality of Artemia compared to the formulated MBD. Huge differences in amylase activity detected between megalopae fed the MBD and those fed Artemia indicated a possible significant role of dietary carbohydrates in megalopal nutrition and a carbohydrate deficiency in the MBD used.

In Chapter 6, changes in digestive enzyme activities during the moult cycle and in the course of larval ontogeny of S. serrata and P. ornatus were examined. The results of activity changes in the major digestive enzymes related to the moult cycle of newly hatched Zoea I and Megalopa as the postlarvae of S. serrata, as well as Stage I and II phyllosoma of P. ornatus, provided insights into the utilization of major nutrients during the recurring episodes of feeding activity changes related to the moult cycle of larvae. During the moult cycle of S. serrata Zoea I, newly hatched zoeae appeared to initially spare proteins and relied more on carbohydrates and lipids for energy, but as the moult cycle progressed, all three major nutrients were utilized when the larvae were actively feeding during the inter-moult stage. On the other hand, newly moulted megalopae seemed to initially utilize carbohydrates and proteins heavily while sparing lipids, however, as the moult cycle advanced, all three major nutrients were utilized and, during the second half of the moult cycle, megalopae relied more on lipids.

During the moult cycle of P. ornatus Stage I phyllosoma, newly hatched larvae initially utilized carbohydrates and proteins to a greater extent, however as they developed towards moulting, there was a trend of gradually increasing lipid utilization. During the initial phase of the moult cycle of Stage II phyllosoma, utilization of carbohydrates and lipids was increased while protein utilization was slightly reduced. During the second half of the moult cycle, lipids were increasingly utilized as the phyllosoma approached moulting.

Changes in major digestive enzyme activities as larvae developed progressively into subsequent stages revealed ontogenetic improvements in the digestive capacity of both S. serrata and P. ornatus larvae. Comparison of results of specific and total activities showed that total activity appeared to be a better way of expressing changes in enzyme activities during larval ontogeny. In S. serrata larvae, the total activities of the major digestive enzymes clearly increased with larval development but more dramatic improvements occurred at Zoea IV, Zoea V and Megalopal stages. During the development of P. ornatus phyllosoma from Stages I to V, the activities of all three major digestive enzymes also increased from one stage to next stage, but these increases were much more pronounced at Stage IV and V, where protease and esterase activities more than doubled. These results suggest that significant improvements in digestive capacity occur from Zoea IV onward for S. serrata and from Stage IV for P. ornatus, which may imply better chances of success in introducing formulated diets at, or beyond, these larval stages.

Chapter 7 summarizes the results of this study and offers general discussion within a broader context. Overall, the results of this research clearly demonstrated that analysis of digestive enzyme activities is a valuable method for the study of larval nutrition. For example, digestive enzyme activities could be used to indicate the relative utilization of various nutrients by the developing embryo and newly hatched larvae, providing useful information that could be used in the formulation of broodstock diets that could improve the quality of the newly hatched larvae. The enzyme responses of larvae to various conditions of food availability, food quality and quantity, as well as during recurring moulting cycles, also provides important information that could be used as the basis for devising appropriate larval feeding regimes and feeding protocols in hatcheries. Furthermore, changes in enzyme activities during larval ontogeny provide information on the digestive capacity of the various larval stages, providing clues regarding the suitable timing for introduction of formulated diets.

Item ID: 46242
Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: aquaculture; crustaceans; digestive enzymes; food quality; larvae; mud crab; nutrition; Panulirus ornatus; Scylla serrata; spiny lobster
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2016 03:50
FoR Codes: 07 AGRICULTURAL AND VETERINARY SCIENCES > 0704 Fisheries Sciences > 070401 Aquaculture @ 100%
SEO Codes: 83 ANIMAL PRODUCTION AND ANIMAL PRIMARY PRODUCTS > 8301 Fisheries - Aquaculture > 830102 Aquaculture Fin Fish (excl. Tuna) @ 100%
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