Dissertation Defense: Mary Larkin (Ph.D. Candidate, UMB Toxicology)

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Dissertation Defense: Mary Larkin (Ph.D. Candidate, UMB Toxicology)

November 28, 2018 at 1:00pm to at 2:00pm

Title: A Role for Taurine in Food Sensitivities in Fish 

Speaker: Mary Larkin (Ph.D. Candidate, UMB Toxicology)

Abstract: As the aquaculture industry expands to feed an ever growing world population, it seeks  to develop more low-cost, environmentally sustainable feed ingredients.  Fish meal replacement by plant sources of protein, including those derived from soybeans, wheat, and peas may have unintended effects. Certain species have reacted poorly to particular ingredients, including components of soy and pea protein. We present here evidence for potential negative health effects elicited by wheat gluten incorporation into the feed of Cobia (Rachycentron canadum). European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), on the contrary, seem to well tolerate this ingredient.

We sought to evaluate the ability of taurine, a known immunomodulator, to alleviate inflammation in cases of adverse effects caused by particular plant ingredients in feed. We saw evidence for this in the cobia study, and though our study did not induce any inflammation in sea bass, we detected dramatically increased levels of taurine levels in the plasma of fish consuming a diet containing 4% wheat gluten. Supplemental taurine in European sea bass shifted spectral sensitivity to a longer wavelength, though there were no apparent anatomical differences in the retina between the un-supplemented and supplemented groups.

We observed changes to the microbiome induced by dietary wheat gluten, and in a separate study, taurine. Wheat gluten addition to the diet greatly increased the number of predominant phyla represented in the intestinal microbiota. Taurine caused less of a shift, but interestingly, the predominant phyla were very uniform throughout the sections of the intestines of the taurine-fed fish

In two different studies, we attempted to characterize a dietary taurine-dependent zebrafish that was incapable of endogenous taurine synthesis. However, both of our potential strains turned out to be producing  a wild-type CSAD (cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase) protein even in the presence of an early termination codon in the csad gene. We also observed the expression of two smaller sizes of CSAD, ~53 and ~55 kDa, in addition to the previously described ~59 kDa protein. The two smaller sizes appear to be produced early in development and are not detectable by 3.5 weeks post-fertilization.