Ordóñez-Grande, B., Guerreiro, P. M., Sanahuja, I. et al. 2020. Evaluation of an acute osmotic stress in European sea bass via skin mucus biomarkers. Animals 10(9), 1546.
European sea bass is a marine teleost which can inhabit a broad range of environmental salinities. So far, no research has studied the physiological response of this fish to salinity challenges using modifications in skin mucus as a potential biological matrix. Here, we used a skin mucus sampling technique to evaluate the response of sea bass to several acute osmotic challenges (for 3 h) from seawater (35‰) to two hypoosmotic environments, diluted brackish water (3‰) and estuarine waters (12‰), and to one hyperosmotic condition (50‰). For this, we recorded the volume of mucus exuded and compared the main stress-related biomarkers and osmosis-related parameters in skin mucus and plasma. Sea bass exuded the greatest volume of skin mucus with the highest total contents of cortisol, glucose, and protein under hypersalinity. This indicates an exacerbated acute stress response with possible energy losses if the condition is sustained over time. Under hyposalinity, the response depended on the magnitude of the osmotic change: shifting to 3‰ was an extreme salinity change, which affected fish aerobic metabolism by acutely modifying lactate exudation. All these data enhance the current scarce knowledge of skin mucus as a target through which to study environmental changes and fish status.