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A primary phosphorus-deficient skeletal phenotype in juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salar: the uncoupling of bone formation and mineralization
Witten, P.E.; Owen, M.; Fontanillas, R.; Soenens, M.; McGurk, C.; Obach, A. (2016). A primary phosphorus-deficient skeletal phenotype in juvenile Atlantic salmon Salmo salar: the uncoupling of bone formation and mineralization. J. Fish Biol. 88(2): 690-708.
In: Journal of Fish Biology. Fisheries Society of the British Isles: London,New York,. ISSN 0022-1112; e-ISSN 1095-8649, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

Author keywords
    malformations; mineral deficiency; scales; skeletal development;vertebral column

Authors  Top 
  • Witten, P.E., more
  • Owen, M.
  • Fontanillas, R.
  • Soenens, M., more
  • McGurk, C.
  • Obach, A.

    To understand the effect of low dietary phosphorus (P) intake on the vertebral column of Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, a primary P deficiency was induced in post-smolts. The dietary P provision was reduced by 50% for a period of 10 weeks under controlled conditions. The animal's skeleton was subsequently analysed by radiology, histological examination, histochemical detection of minerals in bones and scales and chemical mineral analysis. This is the first account of how a primary P deficiency affects the skeleton in S. salar at the cellular and at the micro-anatomical level. Animals that received the P-deficient diet displayed known signs of P deficiency including reduced growth and soft, pliable opercula. Bone and scale mineral content decreased by c. 50%. On radiographs, vertebral bodies appear small, undersized and with enlarged intervertebral spaces. Contrary to the X-ray-based diagnosis, the histological examination revealed that vertebral bodies had a regular size and regular internal bone structures; intervertebral spaces were not enlarged. Bone matrix formation was continuous and uninterrupted, albeit without traces of mineralization. Likewise, scale growth continues with regular annuli formation, but new scale matrix remains without minerals. The 10 week long experiment generated a homogeneous osteomalacia of vertebral bodies without apparent induction of skeletal malformations. The experiment shows that bone formation and bone mineralization are, to a large degree, independent processes in the fish examined. Therefore, a deficit in mineralization must not be the only cause of the alterations of the vertebral bone structure observed in farmed S. salar. It is discussed how the observed uncoupling of bone formation and mineralization helps to better diagnose, understand and prevent P deficiency-related malformations in farmed S. salar.

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