, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 225-241

Comparative digestive enzyme ontogeny in two marine larval fishes: Pacific threadfin (Polydactylus sexfilis ) and bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus )

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The specific activity of digestive enzymes; aspartic and serine protease, collagenase, lipase, acid and alkaline amylase, acid and alkaline phosphatase, and chitinase was assayed throughout early development in two species of marine fishes: the Pacific threadfin (Polydactylus sexfilis) and bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus). Specific enzyme activities were determined on whole larval extracts sampled at selected stages of development, from day 0 to day 30 post-hatching. Similar developmental patterns of enzyme specific activity were observed in the two species, although differences in timing, amplitude and effects of first feeding were noted. Amylase activity increased prior to first feeding, peaking at the middle of the larval period, and becoming nearly undetectable by the time of larval-to-juvenile metamorphosis. Serine protease, collagenase, lipase and alkaline (and acid for threadfin) phosphatase activities increased gradually, followed by sharp increases to a plateau during the second half of larval development. Aspartic protease and chitinase activities, in addition to acid phosphatase (for trevally), were low to undetectable in the first half of development, increasing through metamorphosis. In the trevally only, this group of enzymes exhibited high activity levels at the time of hatching, followed by a precipitous drop. Species-dependent differences in enzyme specific activity at first feeding may have been a result of differences in yolk utilization. These results, taken in the context of earlier reports, lead us to conclude that carbohydrate utilization may play a significant role in the earlier phases of development among some marine larvae, followed by a shift to protein and lipid utilization.