Dietary supplementation of biofloc influences growth performance, physiological stress, antioxidant status and immune response of juvenile sea cucumberApostichopus japonicus(Selenka)

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Bioflocs are rich in various probiotics and bioactive compounds, which play an important role in improving growth and health status of aquatic organisms. A 60-day experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of dietary supplementation of biofloc on growth performance, digestive enzyme activity, physiological stress, antioxidant status, expression of immune-related genes and disease resistance of sea cucumber Apostichopus japonicus. Juvenile sea cucumbers were fed five experimental diets containing graded levels of biofloc from 0% to 20% (referred as B0, B5, B10, B15 and B20, respectively). The results showed that the sea cucumbers at dietary supplementation levels of 10%–15% biofloc had significantly higher specific growth rate (SGR) compared to control group (diet B0). Digestive enzyme activity increased with the increasing of dietary biofloc level, while no significant difference was found between diets B15 and B20. Dietary supplementation of biofloc also had significant influences on physiological stress parameters except for lactate. There was no significant discrepancy in total coelomocytes counts (TCC) in coelomic fluid of sea cucumber between the treatments. Phagocytosis and respiratory burst of cellular immune at 15% and 20% biofloc levels were significantly higher than those of control group. Significant increases in superoxide dismutase (SOD), total nitric oxide synthase (T-NOS), lysozyme (LSZ), acid phosphatase (ACP) and alkaline phosphatase (AKP) activities of sea cucumber were found at highest dietary supplementation level of 20% biofloc. The expression patterns of immune-related genes (i.e., Hsp90, Hsp70, p105, Rel, NOS and LSZ) in tissues of sea cucumber were analyzed between the experimental diets, and a general trend of up-regulation was observed at higher biofloc levels. Furthermore, dietary 10%–20% biofloc significantly reduced cumulative mortality of sea cucumber after being challenged with Vibrio splendidus. In conclusion, dietary supplementation of biofloc could improve growth performance of A. japonicus, by increasing digestive enzyme activity, releasing physiological stress, enhancing immune response and disease resistance of sea cucumber. The suitable supplemental level of approximately 15% biofloc was recommended in the present study.

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