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  • Determining Optimum Taurine Supplementation Levels for Plant Proteins Incorporated into Marine Finfish Feeds using Juvenile Sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria.


Northwest Fisheries Science Center (NWFSC) Environmental and Fisheries Sciences EFS - Aquaculture


Determining Optimum Taurine Supplementation Levels for Plant Proteins Incorporated into Marine Finfish Feeds using Juvenile Sablefish Anoplopoma fimbria.
Taurine, an amino sulfonic acid, has important roles in osmoregulation, bile acid conjugation, membrane stabilization and calcium homeostasis in vertebrates. Though many animals biosynthesize taurine, felines and some marine finfish have low cysteine sulfinate decarboxylase (CSD) activity, limiting their ability to produce taurine. In cats, a diet devoid of taurine will cause blindness and multiple birth defects. Thus, taurine is an essential nutrient for the cat. The capacity of aquaculture finfish to biosynthesize taurine depends on the species. Although the underlying physiological processes are not yet understood, recent studies have shown that taurine improves growth of fish such as yellowtail, Japanese flounder, sea bream, and cobia. Though a promising aquaculture species, it is unknown whether sablefish can synthesize taurine or whether they must obtain it through their diet to achieve optimal growth.

While ample amounts of taurine are found in many rendered animal proteins, including fishmeal, taurine is absent from plant proteins recently employed in fish feeds. Studies on yellowtail, red sea bream, and rainbow trout fed low (or zero) fishmeal diets saw improved growth with taurine supplementation. Taurine limited processes are a potential barrier to the optimum growth and successful transition of marine finfish species from currently available, fishmeal based feeds to alternative, more sustainable, plant-based feeds.

Research Themes

Sustainable, safe and secure seafood for healthy populations and vibrant communities
Effective fisheries management provides economic opportunities and ensures the long-term sustainability of fisheries and the habitats on which they depend. The NWFSC seeks to improve the quality and quantity of data used in stock assessments, the methods for assessing stocks and ecosystem sustainability within the context of human modification of the environment. The NWFSC also provides state-of-the-art science and technology to support aquaculture while protecting and maintaining ecosystem health. Further, pathogens, toxins from harmful algal blooms (HABs), chemical contaminants and other stressors of marine ecosystems pose significant risks to health of both seafood resources and to humans. The NWFSC focuses on research to improve understanding of those risks, how to forecast them, and identify means to mitigate their impacts.

Research Foci

Provide scientific support to ensure safe seafood for healthier populations and characterize how human activities and climate affect risks from pathogens, chemical contaminants, and biotoxins
The availability of nutritious and safe seafood from marine ecosystems and aquaculture are essential to maintain and maximize human health. Even though fish are known to have a variety of health benefits, some seafood (wild or farmed) may contain levels of toxic compounds (e.g., chemical contaminants, pathogens, biotoxins) from a variety of human-related and natural sources that can pose health risks to humans, especially for those groups with high rates of seafood consumption. The development of novel methods and technologies to assess seafood safety and biological effects of these toxic compounds remains a priority for commercial, subsistence and recreational consumption of seafood. For example, several species (e.g., zebrafish, sea lions, shellfish) are excellent indicators of environmental stress and potential health threats to marine species and humans. These species can serve as informative animal models for investigations of the mechanisms of toxicity or disease processes. Specific research goals include (1) improve methods for monitoring for the presence of pathogens, toxins and contaminants in seafood products, (2) characterize the environmental and climate conditions that may be favorable for potential biotoxin and pathogen outbreaks, (3) develop technologies to remove chemical contaminants from fish feed and to enhance the nutritional content of aquaculture products, (4) develop a better understanding of the net economic and health benefits of seafood consumption balanced with the risk of exposure to pathogens, toxins and contaminants, and (5) develop new mechanistic animal models for the study of infectious diseases, as well as toxicological, physiological, and biochemical processes relevant to marine animal and human health.


The culture of fish, aquatic invertibrates, and aquatic plants for the production of food


None associated


Order Scorpaeniformes


Ronald Johnson
Principal Investigator
Thomas Scott