Benhaïm, D., Leblanc, C. A. L., Horri, K. et al. 2020. The effect of triploidy on the performance, gut microbiome and behaviour of juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) raised at low temperature. Applied Animal Behaviour Science 229, 105031.
Triploid Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) aquaculture has been extensively considered for many years, but its development has so far remained very limited. This is mostly due to poorer farming performances of triploid fish (3 N) in comparison with their diploid (2 N) counterparts, with temperature seen as a key explanatory factor. Furthermore, there are many inconsistencies between studies and considerable knowledge gaps exist in triploid physiology and performance, especially at early life stages. The present work is a pilot experiment in which the temperature was kept constantly low (8 °C) during 149 days from 81 to 229 days post hatching (dph). We used a multi-trait approach with an emphasis on behaviour to investigate the performance of 3 N and 2 N Atlantic salmon. Specifically, we compared growth, survival, prevalence of malformation, gut microbiome, and behavioural traits such as swimming activity in response to a stressor, and boldness. Reared at a cold and constant temperature, juvenile triploid and diploid fish showed similar growth from 81 to 165 dph but a difference occurred at 221 dph. Interestingly, triploids outperformed diploids in terms of survival. The prevalence of deformity was low in both diploid and triploid fish and no lower jaw skeletal abnormalities were observed in live fish at the end of the experiment. Triploid and diploid fish displayed very similar swimming activity and boldness traits as well as a very similar gut microbiome. This multi-trait approach reveals that when raised at low temperature, triploid and diploid fish performed equally well, with even a better survival for triploids towards the end of the experiment. Our study emphasizes the need for developing different rearing protocols for diploid and triploid Atlantic salmon. Applying a lower temperature at early developmental stages in ectotherms inevitably slows their developmental rate and may allow fine tuning of key developmental structures, decreasing deformities at early and later life stages of triploids. Further research comparing different temperature profiles is needed to find the best compromise between growth performance and low malformation rate and to examine the long-term effect of low temperatures applied at an early stage of development. This is a crucial step to improve both triploid salmon performance and welfare.