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Research and development of hatchery techniques to optimise juvenile production of the edible Sea Urchin, Paracentrotus lividus

Carboni S (2013) Research and development of hatchery techniques to optimise juvenile production of the edible Sea Urchin, Paracentrotus lividus, Doctor of Philosophy, University of Stirling.

Research and development in aquaculture has supported the knowledge-based development of the sector over the last decades. In particular, species diversification is playing an important role to ensure sustainability of the industry and helping to reduce pressure on wild stocks of those aquatic species for which farming technology is still at the early stages. Due to the increasing pressures on more traditional carnivorous marine finfish species (aquafeed reliance on fishmeal and fish oil, environmental impact, market price) low trophic organisms are receiving more attention to provide sustainable alternatives and integrate production activities with the aim of reducing environmental impacts and to provide secondary high value crops. Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) systems are therefore at the forefront of innovation in the industry. Several invertebrate species have been investigated and tested as integral part of IMTA (mussels, oysters, abalone and macroalgae) and echinoderms have also been considered as good candidates for the future development of this technology. In order to allow for a more widespread uptake of integrated aquaculture, several technical and biological challenges need to be overcome, including a reliable supply of juveniles. In recent years, this has prompted investigation on Echiniculture as a whole and on hatchery technologies in particular. This PhD investigated key constraints in edible sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus) juvenile production with the aim to improve commercial sea urchin hatchery outputs. The research firstly focused on larval nutrition (Chapter 3 and 4) and specifically tested the hypothesis that larvae required higher dietary inputs of long chain fatty acids than those provided by Dunaliella tertiolecta, a microalgae species widely used in echinoderm larval rearing. Fatty acid composition of P. lividus eggs, investigated in Chapter 3, supported this hypothesis, which was further confirmed by the results obtained in Chapter 4 where microalgae (Cricosphaera elongata, Pleurochrisis carterae and Tetraselmis suecica) with a more balanced fatty acid profile, in particular richer in long chain fatty acids, were employed. This resulted in a significantly improved larval development and survival. Results also indicated that these alternative microalgae species could be successfully grown without modification of the microalgae production protocols in the hatchery where the experimentation had taken place. The third experimental chapter compared static and flow through systems which provides more stable water quality through constant water exchange and reduces larval handling and associated stress. Results indicated that larval survival was significantly improved by the flow-through system and the need for tank cleaning was reduced (three versus seven times per larval cycle when using flow-through and static rearing systems respectively). However, water quality, based on the parameters assessed (NH4, PO4-3, NO2 and NO3), did not show any significant differences between systems. Reduced handling could have therefore played the most important role in promoting larval survival. Both these trials resulted in a significant 5 to 20 % increased survival. A follow-up study, combining flow-through with more suitable microalgae, should be carried out and could result in even further enhanced survival. Then, chapters 6 and 7 focused on broodstock nutrition and subsequent improvement of gamete quantity and quality. These two trials aimed to explore and describe the biological effects that some important nutrients, such as proteins, lipids, fatty acids and carotenoids, have on urchins’ somatic and gonadal growth, gonad biochemical composition during gametogenesis, fecundity and maternal provisioning to developing embryos. Results from the experiment described in Chapter 6 indicated that higher protein content can improve somatic growth in P. lividus adults and that more expensive, protein-, lipid- and energy-rich diets do not significantly enhance fecundity or offspring performance. Results, moreover, highlighted the need for a specifically formulated broodstock diet and gave some insights into what its composition should be, especially in relation to carotenoids. In Chapter 7, fatty acid profiles of P. lividus gonads throughout gametogenesis were studied for the first time. It was observed that, among Long Chain Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids (LC-PUFAs), Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) are primarily accumulated during gametogenesis, whilst Arachidonic acid (ARA) appears to be independent of dietary input. In addition, it was clearly shown that ARA is the only LC-PUFA accumulated in the eggs along with Non Methylene Interrupted Fatty Acids (NMI FAs). As well as looking at the biological effects of different diets on fatty acid profiles of gonadal and larval tissues, the work also expanded on a more fundamental level to explore the metabolic pathway through which precursors could be used by sea urchins for the endogenous production of long chain fatty acids (Chapter 8). Three Expressed Sequence Tags (ESTs) for putative fatty acyl desaturases, one of which was closely related to Octopus vulgaris ∆5-like fatty acyl desaturase, were identified. The newly cloned putative desaturase of P. lividus possessed all typical features of other fatty acyl desaturases. However, because of time constraints, functional characterisation, originally planned, of the new protein could not be performed and further research effort is needed to investigate this important aspect of sea urchin physiology. Overall, the aim of this research project has been achieved as it provided a set of exploitable results and protocols to improve hatchery practices for the production of P. lividus juvenile. However, more research is required to investigate some of the underlying mechanisms behind the observed biological effects such as delay in larval development when T. suecica was used as larval feed, increased broodstock fecundity, improved larval survival in the flow-through system and higher gonadal concentration of some fatty acids (mainly DHA) than provided in the feed.

Sea Urchin; Fatty acid; Hatchery

StatusAwarded thesis
AuthorsCarboni Stefano
SupervisorsMigaud H
InstitutionUniversity of Stirling
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Qualification levelDoctoral
Publication date2013
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