An infection model for sharpsnout seabream Diplodus puntazzo (Walbaum) challenged with the myxosporean Enteromyxum leei (Diamant, Lom et Dykova, 1994), resembling the natural infection conditions, was used to evaluate the antiparasitic efficacy of a functional diet. Fish of an average weight of 12.5 ± 1.2 g were delivered either a functional (included as feed supplement at 0.3% levels) or a control extruded diet. After four weeks of administration of the experimental diets, fish were challenged with the parasites (cohabitation with infected donors; donor: recipient ratio 1: 1). The experiment was terminated four weeks after the start of the challenge. At the end of the experiment, growth and feeding (specific growth rate and feed efficiency), as well as immunological parameters (respiratory burst activity, antibacterial activities, hemoglobin concentration, anti-protease activity and ceruloplasmin activity) were measured along with cumulative mortality and total parasitic count in the gut. No significant difference was evident with regard to growth and feeding performance, mortality, gut parasitic load or immunological parameters as the parasitical challenge significantly affected both the performance of the control and functional diet fed fish. However, there was a less prominent impact on antibacterial, anti-protease and ceruloplasmin activity in fish fed with the functional diet. Overall, the present study validated the experimental cohabitation infection model and evaluated the efficacy of a functional ingredient as an antiparasitic agent, showing some potential effects on the fish immune response.
- Cohabitation parasitical challenge
- Gut parasite
- Immune response
- Parasite intensity
- Parasite prevalence