, Volume 42, Issue 6, pp 537–545 | Cite as

Authenticating Production Origin of Gilthead Sea Bream (Sparus aurata) by Chemical and Isotopic Fingerprinting

  • Douglas J. Morrison
  • Tom Preston
  • James E. Bron
  • R. James Hemderson
  • Karen Cooper
  • Fiona Strachan
  • J. Gordon Bell
Original Article


Recent EU legislation (EC/2065/2001) requires that fish products, of wild and farmed origin, must provide consumer information that describes geographical origin and production method. The aim of the present study was to establish methods that could reliably differentiate between wild and farmed European gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). The methods that were chosen were based on chemical and stable isotopic analysis of the readily accessible lipid fraction. This study examined fatty acid profiles by capillary gas chromatography and the isotopic composition of fish oil (δ13C, δ18O), phospholipid choline nitrogen (δ15N) and compound specific analysis of fatty acids (δ13C) by isotope ratio mass spectroscopy as parameters that could reliably discriminate samples of wild and farmed sea bream. The sample set comprised of 15 farmed and 15 wild gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata), obtained from Greece and Spain, respectively. Discrimination was achieved using fatty acid compositions, with linoleic acid (18:2n-6), arachidonic acid (20:4n-6), stearic acid (18:0), vaccenic acid (18:1n-7) and docosapentaenoic acid (22:5n-3) providing the highest contributions for discrimination. Principle components analysis of the data set highlighted good discrimination between wild and farmed fish. Factor 1 and 2 accounted for >70% of the variation in the data. The variables contributing to this discrimination were: the fatty acids 14:0, 16:0, 18:0, 18:1n-9, 18:1n-7, 22:1n-11, 18:2n-6 and 22:5n-3; δ13C of the fatty acids 16:0, 18:0, 16:1n-7, 18:1n-9, 20:5n-3 and 22:6n-3; Bulk oil fraction δ13C; glycerol/choline fraction bulk δ13C; δ15N; % N; % lipid.


Sea bream Product authentication Fatty acid compositions Isotope ratio mass spectrometry (IRMS) Flesh oil δ13Flesh oil δ18Glycerol choline fraction δ15Principal components analysis 


  1. 1.
    Sargent JR, Tacon AGJ (1999) Development of farmed fish: a nutritionally necessary alternative to meat. Proc Nutr Soc 58:377–383PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    FAO (2005a) FAO Fisheries Department, Fishery Information, Data and Statistics Unit, Fishstat Plus: Universal software for fishery statistical time series, Aquaculture production: quantities 1950–2003, Aquaculture production: values 1984–2003, Capture production:1950–2003, Commodities production and trade: 1950–2003, Total production:1970–2003, Vers. 2.30Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Hites RA, Foran JA, Carpenter DO, Hamilton MC, Knuth BA, Schwager SJ (2004) Global assessment of organic contaminants in farmed salmon. Science 303:226–229PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    European Commission Regulation 199/2006a amending Regulation (EC) 466/2001 setting maximum levels for certain contaminants in foodstuffs as regards dioxins and dioxin-like PCBsGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition and Committee on Toxicology (SACN/COT) (2004) Advice on fish consumption: benefits and risks. The Stationary Office, Norwich. Available online at
  6. 6.
    EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) (2005) EFSA J 236:123 pages. Available online at
  7. 7.
    Barber MD, Ross JA, Preston T, Shenkin A, Fearon KC (1999) Fish-oil enriched nutritional supplement attenuates progression of the acute phase response in weight-losing patients with advanced pancreatic cancer. J Nutr 129:1120–1125PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Barber MD, McMillan DC, Preston T, Ross JA, Fearon KCH (2000) Metabolic response to feeding in weight-losing pancreatic cancer patients and its modulation by a fish-oil-enriched nutritional supplement. Clin Sci 98:389–399PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Barber MD, Preston T, McMillan DC, Slater C, Ross JA, Fearon KCH (2004) Modulation of the liver export protein synthetic response to feeding by an n-3 fatty-acid-enriched nutritional supplement is associated with anabolism in cachectic cancer patients. Clin Sci 106(4):359–364PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Moses AWG, Slater C, Preston T, Barber MD, Fearon KCH (2004) The reduced total energy expenditure and physical activity in cachectic patients with pancreatic cancer can be modulated by energy and protein dense oral supplements enriched with n-3 fatty acids. Br J Cancer 90(5):996–1002PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Horrocks LA, Yeo YK (1999) Health benefits of docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). Pharmacol Res 40:211–225PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Sastry PS (1985) Lipids of nervous tissue: composition and metabolism. Prog Lipid Res 24:69–176PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Simopoulos AP (1991) Omega-3 fatty acids in health and disease and in growth and development. Am J Clin Nutr 54:438–463PubMedGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Calder PC (2001) Polyunsaturated fatty acids, inflammation and immunity. Lipids 36:1007–1024PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Young G, Conquer J (2005) Omega-3 fatty acids and neuropsychiatric disorders. Reprod Nutr Dev 45:1–28PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Tacon AGJ (2004) Use of fish meal and fish oil in aquaculture: a global perspective. Aquatic Resour Cult Dev 1:18–19Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Bell JG, McGhee F, Dick JR, Tocher DR (2005) Dioxin and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in Scottish farmed salmon (Salmo salar): effects of replacement of dietary marine fish oil with vegetable oils. Aquaculture 243:305–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Berntssen MHG, Lundebye A-K, Torstensen BE (2005) Reducing the levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in farmed Atlantic salmon by substitution of fish oil with vegetable oil in the feed. Aquac Nutr 11:219–231CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Torstensen BE, Bell JG, Sargent JR, Rosenlund G, Henderson RJ, Graff IE, Lie Ø, Tocher DR (2005) Tailoring of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.) flesh lipid composition and sensory quality by replacing fish oil with a vegetable oil blend. J Agric Food Chem 53:10166–10178PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Periago MJ, Ayala MD, Lopez-Albors O, Abdel I, Matinez C, Garcia-Alcazar A, Ros G, Gil F (2005) Muscle cellularity and flesh quality of wild and farmed sea bass Dicentrarchus labrax L. Aquaculture 249:175–188CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Blanchet C, Lucas M, Julien P, Morin R, Gingras S, Dewailly E (2005) Fatty acid composition of wild and farmed Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) and rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss). Lipids 40:529–531PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Preston T (1992) The measurement of stable isotope natural abundance variations. Plant Cell Environ 15:1091–1097CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Craig H (1957) Isotopic standards for carbon and oxygen and correction factors for mass-spectrometric analysis of carbon dioxide. Geochim Cosmochim Acta 12:133–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    Coplen TB, Brand WA, Gehre M, Groning M, Meijer HA, Toman B, Verkouteren RM (2006) New guidelines for delta(13)C measurements. Anal Chem 78:2439–2441PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Morrison DJ, Cooper K, Slater C, Waldron S, Weaver LT, Preston T (2004) A streamlined approach to the analysis of volatile fatty acids and its application to the measurement of whole body flux. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom 18:2593–2600PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. 26.
    Grigorakis K, Taylor KDA, Alexis MN (2003) Organoleptic and volatile aroma compounds comparison of wild and cultured gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata): sensory differences and possible chemical basis. Aquaculture 225:109–119CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Mnari A, Bouhlel I, Chraief I, Hammami M, Rondhane MS, El Cafsi M, Chaouch A (2007) Fatty acids in muscles and liver of Tunisian wild and farmed gilthead sea bream, Sparus aurata. Food Chem 100:1393–1397CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    Gomez-Requeni P, Mingarro M, Kirchner S, Calduch-Giner JA, Medale F, Martin SAM, Houlihan DF, Kaushik SJ, Perez-Sanchez J (2004) Protein growth performance, amino acid utilisation and somatotrophic axis responsiveness to fish meal replacement by plant protein sources in gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). Aquaculture 232:493–510CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Mourente G, Good JE, Bell JG (2005) Partial substitution of fish oil with rapeseed, linseed and olive oils in diets for European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) effects on flesh fatty acid composition, plasma prostaglandins E2 and F, immune function and effectiveness of a fish oil finishing diet. Aquac Nutr 11:25–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Farndale BM, Bell JG, Bruce MP, Bromage NR, Oyen F, Zanuy S, Sargent JR (1999) Dietary lipid composition affects blood leucocyte fatty acid compositions and plasma eicosanoid concentrations in European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax). Aquaculture 179:335–350CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    Bell MV, Dick JR, Thrush M, Navarro JC (1996) Decreased 20:4n-6/20:5n-3 ratio in sperm from cultured sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax, broodstock compared with wild fish. Aquaculture 144:189–199CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    O’Leary MH, Madhavan S, Paneth P (1992) Physical and chemical basis of carbon isotope fractionation in plants. Plant Cell Environ 15:1099–1104CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Preston T, Slater C (1994) Mass spectrometric analysis of stable isotope labelled amino acid tracers. Proc Nutr Soc 53:363–372PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© AOCS 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas J. Morrison
    • 1
  • Tom Preston
    • 1
  • James E. Bron
    • 2
  • R. James Hemderson
    • 2
  • Karen Cooper
    • 1
  • Fiona Strachan
    • 2
  • J. Gordon Bell
    • 2
  1. 1.Stable Isotope Biochemistry LaboratoryScottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC)East KilbrideUK
  2. 2.Institute of AquacultureUniversity of StirlingStirlingUK

Personalised recommendations