In intensive aquiculture fish are often exposed to weakening conditions that compromise their health and resistance to diseases. One strategy to mitigate the effects of stressors is to improve their wellbeing and condition by feeding them functional diets that regulate dysbiosis. The best-studied functional diets are those supplemented with pre- and probiotics, which are known to have benefits on growth, digestion, immune response and stress resistance, mainly due to the modes of action of these bioactive compounds that include modulation of the intestinal microbiota with beneficial consequences for the host.

One of the positive impacts of a microbiota is its capacity to generate stability in health and resistance to diseases, which include improvement in nutrient digestion and absorption, improvement of the cell architecture of the intestinal epithelium and an increase in immune competence against pathogens. However, it is still not known how the intestinal microbiota is related to fish health in terms of disease resistance and the effects of the modulation by functional diets.

Dr. Ana Teresa Gonçalves, researcher associated with Research Line RP1 (Technology in Aquiculture Genomics) of INCAR is beginning to develop the FONDECYT Initiation project entitled “Fish intestine miRNome: disentangling the microRNAS role between host and microbiota interplaying in Atlantic salmon fed with functional diets”, in which she expects to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that regulate the link between the host and microbiota to generate better health and immunity with functional diets. The objective of the project is to investigate the role of microRNAs in the relation between host and intestinal microbiota when fish recover their homeostasis due to functional diets, evaluating the molecular regulator mechanisms involved in this relation by massive sequencing. Among the first results of the project will be solid conjectures on the future application of miRNAs in improving the efficiency of functional diets, expecting to provide scientific information on strategies that contribute to sustainable aquiculture.

This information is crucial to optimize and make strategic improvements in the nutritional supplements and functional diets in aquiculture.

The full text of this article is available in Spanish in the Spanish version of the INCAR Website.