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Egg cortisol response to stress at early stages of development in Persian sturgeon Acipenser persicus

Falahatkar, Bahram, Akhavan, Sobhan R., Ghaedi, Gholamreza
Aquaculture international 2014 v.22 no.1 pp. 215-223
Acipenser persicus, breeding, cortisol, developmental stages, early development, eggs, heart, ontogeny, stress response, sturgeon, survival rate
One of the most important periods in artificial breeding of sturgeon is incubation. In general, little is known about ontogeny of the stress response in early developmental stages of sturgeon. In this study, cortisol content was measured by radioimmunoassay for the first time in eggs of Persian sturgeon Acipenser persicus to elicit at which times during early developmental stages, that they were particularly sensitive to stressful events. In this study, fertilized eggs of mature Persian sturgeons were placed in special boxes (as replicates) that were put in incubation units of Yushchenko. To assess pre-stress samples (resting cortisol levels), 5 eggs were selected randomly from each box in 7 important stages of incubation (2-cell division, blastula, end of blastula, mid of gastrula, neurula, eyed stage and heart beaten). In another experiment, eggs were exposed to an acute stress (10 min out of water) in 7 developmental stages. For determination of post-stress cortisol, eggs were collected 2 and 6 h after the stress. The results indicated significant difference in various stages of incubation but cortisol levels revealed no differences in whole-body levels between stressed samples (2 and 6 h post-stress) and unstressed samples (P > 0.05). The highest percentage of hatching rate for post-stressed eggs was recorded in 2-cell division stage while this percentage declined steadily in the heart beaten stage when a statistically significant difference was revealed with regard to other stages (P = 0.000). These findings suggested that sturgeon eggs were not so much sensitive in their early developmental stages and relatively resistant to stress. However, significant decrease in survival rate in heart beaten stage showed a sensitivity of this stage to stress. Lack of an increase in cortisol after acute stress indicated that hypothalamus-pituitary-interrenal (HPI) axis for cortisol synthesis was not yet functional. However, further studies seem necessary to clarify when HPI axis is activated in this species.