Are the effects of catch-and-release angling evident in changes to mRNA abundances related to metabolism, acid-base regulation and stress in lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) gills?

Conserv Physiol. 2023 Aug 24;11(1):coad065. doi: 10.1093/conphys/coad065. eCollection 2023.


Catch-and-release (C&R) angling is a conservation-oriented practice intended to reduce the impact recreational angling has on fish populations. Even though most recreationally angled fish are released, little is known about how C&R angling impacts fish at the cellular or tissue level. As the first to explore the impacts of C&R angling on mRNA abundances, our study aimed to identify how the stress of angling influenced metabolism, acid-base regulation and cellular stress in the gills of lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush). Because gills are responsible for metabolic gas exchange, are crucial sites of acid-base homeostasis and respond to stressors quickly, we hypothesized that the relative mRNA abundance of genes related to these three physiological processes would be altered after angling. We took gill samples of live lake trout at 0, 2 or 48 h after fish were angled by rod and reel, and then used quantitative PCR (qPCR) to measure the relative abundance of nine candidate mRNA transcripts. Heat shock protein 70 (hsp70) mRNA levels significantly increased over 5-fold 2 h after angling, indicating a potential activation of a cytoprotective response. However, contrary to our hypothesis, we observed no change in the relative mRNA abundance of genes related to metabolism or acid-base regulation in response to C&R angling within a 48-h period. As C&R angling can negatively impact fish populations, further use of transcript-level studies will allow us to understand the impact C&R has on specific tissues and improve our knowledge of how C&R influences overall fish health.

Keywords: Physiology; recreational angling; recreational fisheries; salmonids; transcript level.