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The onset of stress response in rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss embryos subjected to density and handling

Ghaedi, Gholamreza, Falahatkar, Bahram, Yavari, Vahid, Sheibani, Mohammad T., Broujeni, Gholamreza Nikbakht
Fish physiology and biochemistry 2015 v.41 no.2 pp. 485-493
Oncorhynchus mykiss, air, cortisol, developmental stages, early development, eggs, hatching, organogenesis, siblings, stress response
The present study made an attempt to measure the cortisol content, as an indicator of stress response, in rainbow trout embryos which were exposed to different densities and handling stress (air exposure) during incubation. The three densities of experimental embryos at early development stages were considered as 2.55 embryos/cm²(low density), 5.10 embryos/cm²(normal density) and 7.65 embryos/cm²(high density). The cortisol content of eggs (5.09 ± 0.12 ng/g) decreased to 3.68 ± 0.14 ng/g in newly fertilized eggs. Resting level of cortisol dropped at three densities by day 18 of post fertilization. Then, cortisol increased at hatching stage to 1.16 ± 0.11, 1.20 ± 0.12 and 1.21 ± 0.14 ng/g at low, normal and high densities, respectively. There were no statistically significant differences between cortisol concentrations in three densities. The acute handling stress test (5-min out-of-water), conducted on embryos (48 h post fertilization, organogenesis and eyed stage) in three densities, revealed no differences in whole-body cortisol levels between stressed and unstressed experimental groups. At hatching stage in low-density group, level of cortisol increased but the difference with the pre-stress levels was not statistically significant. Furthermore, significant differences in cortisol levels of stressed and unstressed embryos were detected on hatching in normal and high density groups [1.20 ± 0.12 at time 0–1.49 ± 0.11 ng/g at 1 hps (hours post stress) and from 1.21 ± 0.14 at time 0 to 1.53 ± 0.10 ng/g at 3 hps, respectively]. The results showed no difference in profile of cortisol in different densities, but acute stress conducted on embryos, incubated in different densities, revealed differences in cortisol stress response at hatching between normal and high density, which lead to cortisol increase at hatching time. It indicates that the lag time in the cortisol response to stressors immediately after hatching does not occur when the siblings were stressed during the embryo stage. Results, finally, indicated that hypothalamus–pituitary–interrenal axis was active and responded to an acute stressor under normal and high density, but it is unresponsive to a stressor around hatching under low density.