Assessing the impact of thermal acclimation on physiological condition in the zebrafish model
The zebrafish has become a valuable vertebrate model organism in a wide range of scientific disciplines, but current information concerning the physiological temperature response of adult zebrafish is rather scarce. In this study, zebrafish were experimentally acclimated for 28 days to 18, 26 or 34 °C and a suite of non-invasive and invasive methods was applied to determine the thermal dependence of zebrafish physiological condition. With decreasing temperature, the metabolic rate of zebrafish decreased, as shown by the decreasing oxygen uptake and ammonia excretion rates, limiting the critical swimming speed, probably due to a decreased muscle fibre power output. In response to exercise, fuel stores were mobilized to the liver as shown by the increased hepatosomatic index, liver total absolute energetic value and liver carbohydrate concentration but due to the low metabolic rate they could not be adequately addressed to power swimming activity at 18 °C. Conversely, the increased metabolic performance at high temperature came with an increased metabolic cost resulting in decreased energy status reflected particularly well by the non-invasive condition factor and invasive measures of carcass protein concentration, carcass total absolute energetic value and liver carbohydrate concentration. We showed that the combined measurement of the relative condition factor and critical swimming speed is a powerful non-invasive tool for long-term follow-up studies. Invasive methods were redundant for measuring general energy status but they provided detailed information concerning metabolic reorganization. With this study we proved that the usefulness of the zebrafish as a model organism can easily be expanded to include physiological studies and we provided a reference dataset for the selection of measures of physiological responses for future studies using the zebrafish.
Source (journal)
Journal of comparative physiology: B: biochemical, systematic and environmental physiology
183 :1 (2013) , p. 109-121
Full text (Publisher's DOI)
Full text (publisher's version - intranet only)
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Publication type
Publications with a UAntwerp address
External links
Web of Science
Creation 15.01.2013
Last edited 13.09.2021
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