Predicting nutrient content of ray-finned fishes using phylogenetic information

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 25;9(1):3742. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06199-w.


Human food and nutrition security is dependent on marine ecosystems threatened by overfishing, climate change, and other processes. The consequences on human nutritional status are uncertain, in part because current methods of analyzing fish nutrient content are expensive. Here, we evaluate the possibility of predicting nutrient content of ray-finned fishes using existing phylogenetic and life history information. We focus on nutrients for which fish are important sources: protein, total fat, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, iron, zinc, vitamin A, vitamin B12, and vitamin D. Our results show that life history traits are weak predictors of species nutrient content, but phylogenetic relatedness is associated with similar nutrient profiles. Further, we develop a method for predicting the nutrient content of 7500+ species based on phylogenetic relationships to species with known nutrient content. Our approach is a cost-effective means for estimating potential changes in human nutrient intake associated with altered access to ray-finned fishes.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Proteins, Dietary
  • Fishes / genetics*
  • Fishes / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Nutrients*
  • Nutritional Status / physiology
  • Phylogeny
  • Seafood*


  • Fatty Acids, Omega-3
  • Fish Proteins, Dietary