Postlarvae quality is one of the most important factors in hatcheries, affecting the entire process of growing farmed shrimp. Artemia has been the main live prey supplied to PL because of its size, its great acceptance by PL, and its easy storage in the form of cysts. Therefore, the enrichment of Artemia has a fundamental role in the aquaculture shrimp industry for the nutritional improvement of the species, as demonstrated in this article.
The world production of white shrimp (Penaeus vannamei) has grown from 2.7 million tons in 2010 to 5.8 million tons in 2020 with a value of 29,534 million dollars in the first sale, being the main global species in relation to production value, ahead of the Atlantic salmon Salmo salar.
Ecuador is the largest shrimp producer in the world with more than 1.2 million tons of shrimp produced in 2022. The demand for Ecuadorian postlarvae continued to increase in recent years due to the high development rate of shrimp farms and the increasing demand for high-quality postlarvae; thus, technological investment is focused, to a large extent, on improving the quality of the postlarvae produced.
Postlarvae quality is one of the most important factors in hatcheries, affecting the entire process of growing farmed shrimp. Some of the standard quality indicators of larvae include growth rate and size, nutritional status, general condition, biochemical composition of the body, and hepatopancreas status.
During the early postlarvae (PL) stages, feeding with live prey is still necessary as it provides high digestibility and water quality stability and stimulates digestive enzymes. From the beginning of the development of world shrimp aquaculture to date, Artemia has been the main live prey supplied to PL because of its size, its great acceptance by PL, and its easy storage in the form of cysts.
“One of the biggest challenges for the Ecuadorian white shrimp industry is to produce high-quality PL, with high growth and production potential. PL with a high content of unsaturated fatty acids (HUFA) and phospholipids, which improve resistance to stress and diseases, have been identified as those with the best quality.”
In this way, the enrichment Artemia has a fundamental role in the aquaculture shrimp industry for the nutritional improvement of the species, once enriched with HUFA-rich particles, Artemia contains the necessary nutrients for fish and marine crustacean larvae to improve growth, survival, and metamorphosis success.
Limited information is available at the histological level about the effects of HUFA on the hepatopancreatic status of PL shrimp.
Therefore, the present study had the objective of investigating, during a 12-day trial, the effects of Artemia enrichment with microalgal emulsions enriched with fatty acids on growth performance, biochemical profiles, fatty acid profiles, hepatopancreatic perimeter, and hepatopancreatic histological structure of a population of Penaeus vannamei postlarvae bred in an Ecuadorian commercial farm.
Materials and Methods
A 12-day experiment was conducted to investigate the effects of Artemia enrichment with two experimental microalgal emulsions (formulated with selected fatty acid contents) on P. vannamei PL. For this purpose, 405,000 PL (stage 1) were obtained from a commercial hatchery in Santa Elena, Ecuador, and distributed into nine fiberglass tanks.
Postlarvae were fed for 12 days with three experimental diets (three tanks per treatment): treatment A (Artemia enriched with experimental microalgal emulsion A and dry diet), treatment B (Artemia enriched with experimental microalgal emulsion B and a dry diet), and nonenriched Artemia (Artemia without enrichment and a dry diet).
At the end of the experiment, length (mm), coefficient of variation of the population sizes, number of postlarvae in a gram of weight (PL-gram), biochemical composition, fatty acid profile, hepatopancreas perimeter, and histopathological hepatopancreas status of P. vannamei postlarvae (stage 12) were analyzed.
Lipid and fatty acid profiles (TFA%) of Artemia enriched with both experimental emulsions were not present significant differences between treatments (TA and TB) (TFA%). Artemia fed with microalgae A (MA) presented 19.8% of lipids; Artemia fed with microalgae B (MB) showed 17.76% of lipids; and unenriched Artemia showed 17.3% of lipids.
The docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) content in enriched Artemia increased from 0.61 to 3.15% TFA compared with unenriched Artemia. The DPA content in enriched Artemia increased from 0.23 to 0.65% compared with unenriched Artemia. The arachidonic acid (ARA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) contents were very similar in the three treatments.
At the end of the trial, P. vannamei postlarvae mean total length, coefficient variation in population sizes and number of postlarvae in a gram of weight (PL-gram) did not present significant differences between the three treatments.
Biochemical Composition and Fatty Acid Profile
Postlarvae total lipid, ash, and protein content did not show significant differences between TA, TB, and the control diet (postlarvae fed with nonenriched Artemia) (Table 1). In terms of the fatty acid profile, postlarvae DHA content was significantly superior to animals fed with Artemia enriched with MA and MB (9.80 ± 0.71% and 9.75 ± 0.44%, respectively) than those fed with unenriched Artemia (5.78 ± 0.68) (p < 0.05) (Table 1).
Consequently DHA/EPA and DHA/ARA indexes were superior in postlarvae fed with enriched Artemia (TA and TB) (Table 1). Postlarvae (PL12) fed with Artemia enriched with MA and MB showed a higher concentration of arachidonic acid (ARA) (3.31 ± 0.20% and 3.19 ± 0.09%, respectively), than postlarvae fed with unenriched Artemia (2.73 ± 0.04%) (p < 0.05) (Table 1).
Postlarval DPA content was significantly superior in the treatment with Artemia enriched with MA (0.81 ± 0.06%) and MB (0.86 ± 0.08%) in comparison with that observed in animals fed with unenriched Artemia (0.43 ± 0.02%) (p < 0.05). Nevertheless, postlarval EPA content did not present significant differences between treatments (p > 0.05) (Table 1).
The hepatopancreas perimeter was significantly higher in postlarvae fed with enriched Artemia (TA and TB: 1960.13 μm ± 262.80 μm and 1934.87 μm ± 294.20 μm, respectively) than in postlarvae fed with unenriched Artemia (1664.93 μm ± 328.10 μm) (p < 0.05).
The score between treatments for hepatopancreas status categorization was higher in postlarvae fed with enriched Artemia (TA and TB: 3.38 ± 0.92 and 3.33 ± 0.58, respectively) than those fed with unenriched Artemia (2.91 ± 0.77), although no significant differences were found (p > 0.05).
According to the microscopic study of P. vannamei postlarvae, the hepatopancreas of PL in TA was apparently healthy and well structured. The hepatopancreatic tissue presented a large number of welldeveloped B cells; no degeneration of the tubule’s lumen was observed.
Moreover, the central tube was dilated (Figure 1a). Hepatopancreatic tissue from the postlarvae of TB is shown in Figure 1b. The hepatopancreas is well developed, presenting many vesicles and B cells surrounding healthy tubules and a slight increase in lipid deposition in comparison with PL tissues from TA.
The hepatopancreas of P. vannamei postlarvae fed with Artemia without enrichment presented a large portion of degenerated tissues, mostly in layers surrounding the organ, as well as a lower number of B cells and few healthy tubules and vesicles (Figure 1c).
Althoug there were no significant differences between treatments in terms of the categorization score, there was an obvious distinction between treatments as regards the presence of B cells, vesicles, healthy and welldeveloped tubules, and degenerated tissue.
Nutritional Value of Artemia. In the study, the proximate composition (%) and fatty acid profile of enriched Artemia reflected the values of the experimental emulsions (MA and MB) used in the Artemia enrichment process, especially in the content of essential fatty acids such as DHA and DPA.
Generally, the fatty acid profile of Artemia enriched with experimental emulsions was similar to previously reported profiles obtained with commercial products such as Olio w-3®, Red pepper®, Top Rich®, Culture Selco®, microalgae mix of Dunaliella salina, and Chlorella vulgaris (K. M. Eryalcin, 2018).
“Both experimental emulsions presented a similar fatty acid profile; therefore, no significant differences were detected in the profile of Artemia enriched for 18 h with each product.”
Growth Performance. Other longer-term studies found significant differences in Penaeus spp postlarval growth parameters when fed with enriched Artemia (G. Immanuel, et al., 2007; A. Ahmadi, et al., 2019). In this study, no differences were observed in growth parameters (length, PL-gram, and coefficient of variation in population sizes), perhaps due to the short period of postlarvae culture (12 days).
Fatty Acid Profile. No information has been reported about the effect of enriched Artemia on the fatty acid profile of P. vannamei PL after just 12 days of experimentation, corresponding to the PL production time of commercial hatcheries.
During this experiment, PL quality improved significantly in terms of essential fatty acid contents (DHA, DPA, and ARA) when postlarvae were fed with enriched Artemia (TA and TB).
“In the present study, DHA levels in both experimental emulsions (MA and MB) were elevated and showed a significant effect on the content of this fatty acid in PL fed with enriched Artemia compared with unenriched Artemia.”
Similarly, several previous reports supported that the DHA content in P. vannamei PL was higher when they were fed with Artemia enriched with commercial products such as Easy-DHA Selco after 15 days of experimentation (INVE Aquaculture, Dendermonde, Belgium) (A. Ahmadi, et al., 2019; M. Nafisi Bahabadi, et al., 2018).
The DHA content in PL fed with enriched Artemia (TA and TB) was 1.7 times higher than that of PL fed with unenriched Artemia (NE).
Generally, the postlarvae are fatty acid profile reported in this study was similar to that reported by Ahmadi et al. (2019). No significant differences were found in PL for EPA content, and according to Ahmadi et al. (2019), the EPA content in P. vannamei PL was higher when fed with unenriched Artemia than with enriched Artemia.
Highly unsaturated fatty acids HUFA such as EPA and DHA are important components of phospholipids in cell membranes and affect membrane fluidity, lipid development and metabolism, reproductive development, and various functions of the cell immune system in marine species.
Hepatopancreas Status. The quality of the early postlarvae stages in shrimp is difficult to evaluate using only parameters such as weight gain and survival; therefore, microscopic criteria need to be evaluated.
“In this respect, the hepatopancreas is one of the most important organs in shrimp, synthesizing, transporting, and secreting digestive enzymes, storing lipids, glycogen, and minerals, and being where most enzymes are produced. Characteristics such as tubule formation, color (dark or pale), and hepatopancreas size can be used as indicators of nutritional quality in shrimp (S. M. Suita, et al., 2015; FAO, 2004).”
In the present study, the hepatopancreas status of P. vannamei PL wet samples were observed daily under light microscopy. The brown coloration observed in the hepatopancreas was an indication of good health parameters (H. Manan, et al., 2015).
As this organ is very sensitive to different diets, shrinkage in size easily indicates negative effects (H. Manan, et al., 2015). At the end of the trial, the hepatopancreas perimeter was significantly higher in PL fed with enriched Artemia than with unenriched Artemia.
Therefore, it appears that feeding live prey enriched with HUFA to postlarvae was beneficial for PL health and was reflected in hepatopancreas size.
Little information on the histological effects of HUFA in the hepatopancreas of P. vannamei PL during the early stages have been reported, even though it is one of the indicators of the shrimp’s health status. In the present study, the hepatopancreas of PL fed with enriched Artemia with both experimental emulsions (TA and TB) seemed healthy and well structured, with a large number of well-developed B cells, dilated tubule, and a reduction in degradation tissue.
These latter observations were due to an increase in hepatopancreas secretions and coincided with a higher content of unsaturated fatty acids such as DHA, DPA, and ARA. The hepatopancreas of P. vannamei PL fed with unenriched Artemia presented a large portion of degenerated tissue surrounding the organ and a lower number of B cells.
B cells are most abundant in hepatopancreas tissue, highly vacuolated, and involved in intracellular digestion and nutrient absorption. Moh et al. (2021) reported an increase in B cell number when supplementation with Morinda citrifolia fruit was incorporated into P. vannamei diets, which potentially improved the conversion of F cells to B cells, signifying higher intracellular digestion and nutrient absorption.
“However, Moh et al. (2021) did not report the PL fatty acid profile to establish a congruence between both quality criteria. In the present study, the DHA content of PL fed with enriched Artemia was three times higher than the ARA content; as a result, the DHA/ARA index was significantly higher.”
HUFA deficiency can cause more lipid vacuoles and incomplete cells in the hepatopancreas of P. vannamei early-stage juveniles, but an excess could cause damage (W. An, et al., 2020). Damage was not observed in the present study, signifying that the HUFA content in both experimental emulsions used to enrich Artemia diets was well adapted to postlarval requirements.
These results highlighted the need for future studies to establish the specific influence of fatty acid composition on hepatopancreatic cell morphology and status in shrimp.
It is important to determine the precise amount of HUFA that does not cause oxidative damage to the hepatopancreas since, according to W. An, et al. (2020), the content of MDA (malondialdehyde) in this organ, which indicates the degree of oxygen free radical damage in cells, increased with increasing dietary HUFA levels.
In conclusion, twelve days of culture are sufficient to significantly increase the content of unsaturated fatty acids, such as DHA, DPA, and ARA, in Penaeus vannamei postlarvae by enriching Artemia with formulated microalgal emulsions to obtain higher-quality postlarvae. In addition, HUFA enrichment improves the hepatopancreas status and health of postlarvae with respect to size, number of B cells and vesicles, quantity of healthy tubules, dilatation of the central tube, and surface of degenerated tissue.
This is a summarized version developed by the editorial team of Aquaculture Magazine based on the review article titled “EFFECT OF HUFA IN ENRICHED ARTEMIA ON GROWTH PERFORMANCE, BIOCHEMICAL AND FATTY ACID CONTENT, AND HEPATOPANCREATIC FEATURES OF PENAEUS VANNAMEI POSTLARVAE FROM A COMMERCIAL SHRIMP HATCHERY IN SANTA ELENA, ECUADOR” developed by: Marina Martínez Soler , Gercende Courtois de Vicose, and Javier Roo Filgueira – Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria; José Zambrano Sánchez, Edwin Yugcha Oñate, Magaly Montachana Chimborazo, Walter Intriago Díaz, and Eduardo Reyes Abad – BIOGEMAR S.A. Company/PRODUMAR Company; Juan Manuel Afonso López – Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
The original article, including tables and figures, was published on MARCH, 2023, through HINDAWI AQUACULTURE NUTRITION.
The full version can be accessed online through this link: https://doi.org/10.1155/2023/7343070