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Ecology - Neuroscience - Nutrition

Feeding Preferences and the Nutritional Value of Tropical Algae for the Abalone Haliotis asinina
Published: Thursday, June 14, 2012
Author: Alex R. Angell et al.

by Alex R. Angell, Igor Pirozzi, Rocky de Nys, Nicholas A. Paul

Understanding the feeding preferences of abalone (high-value marine herbivores) is integral to new species development in aquaculture because of the expected link between preference and performance. Performance relates directly to the nutritional value of algae – or any feedstock – which in turn is driven by the amino acid content and profile, and specifically the content of the limiting essential amino acids. However, the relationship between feeding preferences, consumption and amino acid content of algae have rarely been simultaneously investigated for abalone, and never for the emerging target species Haliotis asinina. Here we found that the tropical H. asinina had strong and consistent preferences for the red alga Hypnea pannosa and the green alga Ulva flexuosa, but no overarching relationship between protein content (sum of amino acids) and preference existed. For example, preferred Hypnea and Ulva had distinctly different protein contents (12.64 vs. 2.99 g 100 g-1) and the protein-rich Asparagopsis taxiformis (>15 g 100 g-1 of dry weight) was one of the least preferred algae. The limiting amino acid in all algae was methionine, followed by histidine or lysine. Furthermore we demonstrated that preferences can largely be removed using carrageenan as a binder for dried alga, most likely acting as a feeding attractant or stimulant. The apparent decoupling between feeding preference and algal nutritive values may be due to a trade off between nutritive values and grazing deterrence associated with physical and chemical properties.