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Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Ahmed Mustafa


Department of Biology

University Affiliation

Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne


According to recent estimates, global annual farmed salmonid production exceeds 2 million metric tons (mt). In British Columbia alone, the salmon farming industry accounts for CAD 600+ million annually and employs 3500+ people. One of the problems associated with aquaculture is the risk of disease outbreak through pathogenic infections. There are natural reservoirs of microbes within the salmonids and the risk of sickness is lower in the wild; however, due to the husbandry practices in farming, the potential of infections is elevated. In aquaculture, salmon are reared in conditions where they are crowded, handled, chased, and caught repeatedly. Hence, stress response pathways are activated within salmonids to mount fight/flight response and energy wastage. Prolonged exposure to such stressors leads to the secretion of cortisol, which produces a compromised immune response in fish. An 8-week long study was performed to determine the effects of puerarin, which is the most bioactive isoflavone in the roots of kudzu, Pueraria lobata. The study was designed to determine the consequences of puerarin-supplementation in commercial fish feed through inducing chronic stress in laboratory conditions. Chronic stress was generated by exposing the fish to acute stress by chasing them with nets for 5 minutes daily for 8-weeks. Our findings indicate that puerarin reduces blood-glucose concentrations, hematocrit, plasma protein levels within a 24-hour period. After 8 weeks, puerarin-fed fish had lower plasma cortisol, hematocrit, plasma protein, and had improved spleen-somatic indices (SSIs) and macrophage activity. Our findings indicate puerarin modulate stressors encountered while farming which are in concurrence with prior studies with puerarin on other animal models, where puerarin lowered blood glucose and improved blood circulation. The results of this project are significant since this was one of the first studies with puerarin on fish and has culminated in 2 scientific papers and 1 conference presentation.


Biology | Life Sciences

Puerarin: From the Roots of Kudzu, an Invasive Plant, to the Front Lines in Modulating Stress within Farmed Salmonids

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