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Lack of negative effects of fasting of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) breeders during the spawning period on maternal and egg nutrient composition, fertilization success, and early embryo/larval development


The effect of fasting on spawning performance, maternal, and egg nutrient composition, and on embryo/larval development was monitored in gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata). Two broodstocks were fasted during two consecutive years, for a period of 43 and 54 days within the spawning season, in a preliminary (year 1, 5-year-old breeders) and the main study (year 2, 6-year-old breeders), respectively. Mean daily fecundity showed a declining trend during fasting in the main study only, while fertilization success was high in both years and it was not affected by fasting, as was hatching and 5-day larval survival. There was a loss of 23.5% of maternal body mass due to fasting, and a reduction in gonadosomatic and hepatosomatic indexes, as well as crude protein in maternal muscle and gonads, but not in the liver. After fasting, muscle Σω-6 PUFA and C18:3ω-3 were reduced while C20:4ω-6, 20:5ω-3/20:4ω-6, and C22:6ω-3/20:4ω-6 increased; in the liver, significant reductions were observed in C16:0, C18:3 ω-3, 20:5ω-3/C22:6ω-3 and increases in C18:0, C20:5ω-3, Σω-6 PUFA, and 20:5ω-3/20:4ω-6; in gonads, C15:0, ΣMUFA, 20:5ω-3/C22:6ω-3, 20:5ω-3/20:4ω-6 were increased, while C18:1ω-9 and C20:5ω-3 decreased. Contrary to maternal tissues, the energy density and proximate composition of the eggs did not change due to fasting. The study suggests that fasting of gilthead seabream breeders for 6–8 weeks during the spawning period does not affect spawning performance, egg proximate composition, or embryo and early larval development since maternal nutrient reserves are mobilized to maintain optimal egg nutrient composition.

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Data availability

The original data of the study are available on request.


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The study was supported by an internal program (GnRHa implants, 60.70101) from the Institute of Marine Biology, Biotechnology and Aquaculture of the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research to CCM.

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Authors and Affiliations



Constantinos C. Mylonas designed the experiment. The fish husbandry and sample collection were performed by Irini Sigelaki, Fabrizio Caruso, and Maria Papadaki. Nutritional analyses were carried out by Stavros Chatzifotis and Abraham Gómez Gutiérrez. Data analysis was performed by Maria Papadaki, Fabrizio Caruso, and Stavros Chatzifotis. The manuscript was written by Stavros Chatzifotis, Maria Papadaki, and Constantinos C. Mylonas. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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Correspondence to Constantinos C. Mylonas.

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Ethics approval

Ethical approval for the study was obtained by the relevant Greek authorities (National Veterinary Services) under the license No 255356 (ΑΔΑ:6ΛΙ17ΛΚ-ΠΛΩ). All procedures involving animals were conducted in accordance to the “Guidelines for the treatment of animals in behavioral research and teaching” (Anonymous 1998), the Ethical justification for the use and treatment of fishes in research: an update (Metcalfe and Craig 2011) and the “Directive 2010/63/EU of the European Parliament and the council of 22 September 2010 on the protection of animals used for scientific purposes” (EU 2010).

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The authors declare no competing interests.

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Chatzifotis, S., Gutiérrez, A.G., Papadaki, M. et al. Lack of negative effects of fasting of gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) breeders during the spawning period on maternal and egg nutrient composition, fertilization success, and early embryo/larval development. Fish Physiol Biochem 47, 1257–1270 (2021).

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  • Sparus aurata
  • Spawning performance
  • Fasting
  • Egg proximate composition
  • Egg quality