Selection for adaptation to dietary shifts: towards sustainable breeding of carnivorous fish

PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44898. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044898. Epub 2012 Sep 28.


Genetic adaptation to dietary environments is a key process in the evolution of natural populations and is of great interest in animal breeding. In fish farming, the use of fish meal and fish oil has been widely challenged, leading to the rapidly increasing use of plant-based products in feed. However, high substitution rates impair fish health and growth in carnivorous species. We demonstrated that survival rate, mean body weight and biomass can be improved in rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss) after a single generation of selection for the ability to adapt to a totally plant-based diet (15.1%, 35.3% and 54.4%, respectively). Individual variability in the ability to adapt to major diet changes can be effectively used to promote fish welfare and a more sustainable aquaculture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Physiological*
  • Animal Feed / analysis*
  • Animals
  • Aquatic Organisms
  • Biomass
  • Body Weight
  • Breeding / methods*
  • Carnivory / physiology*
  • Conservation of Natural Resources / methods*
  • Diet*
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss / genetics
  • Oncorhynchus mykiss / physiology*
  • Survival Analysis

Grant support

This work was part of the VEGE-AQUA project. The project received the label of Pôles AQUIMER, Mer Bretagne and Mer PACA and was funded by the French government (FUI) and the Régions Bretagne, Languedoc-Roussillon, Nord-Pas-de Calais and Poitou-Charentes. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.