The objective of this study was to evaluate whether standard fish meal diets prepared with increasing levels of genetically modified (GM; 150 and 300 g kg)1) maize (event MON810) as a starch source, showed any nutritional or physiological adverse effects on Atlantic salmon, Salmo salar L. postsmolt. The diets with low or high inclusions ofGMmaize and its nearisogenic parental line (nongenetically modified; nGM maize), were balanced with Suprex maize (Reference) to obtain compositional equivalency of diet starch, sugars and all other nutrients. Total starch level in all diets was 160 g kg)1. After 82 days of feeding, fish growth was high in all groups, however fish fed theGMmaize showed slight but significant lower feed intake, which was followed by slight but significant lower specific growth rate and final body weights, compared with fish fed nGM maize, none of the groups varied significantly from fish fed the Reference diet. There was no variation in feed conversion ratios (FCR), protein and lipid efficiency ratios (PER and LER), or protein- and lipid-productive values (PPV and LPV) in this study. No significant effect of maize type was detected on apparent digestibility coefficients (ADC) of dry matter, protein or lipid. Hematological analysis and plasma nutrients varied within normal ranges for Atlantic salmon in all diet groups, except for somewhat elevated aspartate aminotransferase (ASAT) values in all groups. Hepatosomatic index (HSI) with values ranging from 1.37 to 1.60, was signi- ficantly higher for the high GM maize group compared with the high nGM maize group but not when compared with the Reference diet group. Lowered spleen (SSI) and head-kidney somatic indices (H-KSI) were registered when fed GM compared withnGMmaize, the Reference treatment was however, equal to both. Distal intestine somatic index (DISI) was significantly higher for GM maize-fed fish compared with nGM maize-fed fish, but not significantly different from the Reference diet group. Histological evaluation of the mid- and distal intestine, liver, spleen and head-kidney did not reveal any dietrelated morphological changes. Maltase activities in the midand distal intestinal tissue homogenates were affected by diet, the fish fed high GM maize having higher activities compared with highnGMmaize-fed fish. Leucine aminopeptidase (LAP) and alkaline phosphatase (AP) activities were not affected by diet. Sodium-dependent D-glucose uptake in brush border membrane vesicles (BBMV) isolated from pyloric caeca of fish fed highGMmaize was significantly higher than that found in fish fed the analogous diet with high nGM maize. Based on the present findings, the conclusions made are: Atlantic salmon smolts fed GM maize (event MON810), its near-isogenic parental line and suprex maize (Reference diet), all resulted in high growth rates, ADC and feed utilization. Health, when evaluated by means of mortality (low), normal ranges of blood and plasma parameters, except somewhat elevated ASAT values and minor variations in organ sizes, were considered good in all diet groups. The changes in the glucose transport mechanism and intestinal maltase enzyme activity in the gastrointestinal tract warrant further studies.
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