Deitch, E.J.; Fletcher, G.L.; Petersen, L.H.; Costa, I.A.S.F.; Shears, M.A.; Driedzic, W.R.; Gamperl, A.K. (2006). Cardiorespiratory modifications, and limitations, in post-smolt growth hormone transgenic Atlantic salmon Salmo salar. Journal Of Experimental Biology. 209 (7) 1310-1325.
In recent years, there has been a great deal of interest in how growth hormone (GH) transgenesis affects fish physiology. However, the results of these studies are often difficult to interpret because the transgenic and non-transgenic fish had very different environmental/rearing histories. This study used a stable line of size-matched GH Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) that were reared in a shared tank with controls (at 10 degrees C, for similar to 9 months) to perform a comprehensive examination of the cardiorespiratory physiology of GH transgenic salmon, and serves as a novel test of the theory of symmorphosis. The GH transgenic salmon had a 3.6X faster growth rate, and 21 and 25% higher values for mass-specific routine and standard oxygen consumption ((M) over dot(O2)), respectively. However, there was no concurrent increase in their maximum (M) over dot(O2), which resulted in them having an 18% lower metabolic scope and a 9% reduction in critical swimming speed. This decreased metabolic capacity/performance was surprising given that the transgenics had a 29% larger heart with an 18% greater mass-specific maximum in situ cardiac output, a 14% greater post-stress blood haemoglobin concentration, 5-10% higher red muscle and heart aerobic enzyme (citrate synthase or cytochrome oxidase) activities, and twofold higher resting and 1.7X higher post-stress, catecholamine levels. However, gill surface area was the only cardiorespiratory parameter that was not enhanced, and our data suggest that gill oxygen transfer may have been limiting. Overall, this research: (1) shows that there are significant metabolic costs associated with GH transgenesis in this line of Atlantic salmon; (2) provides the first direct evidence that cardiac function is enhanced by GH transgenesis; (3) shows that a universal upregulation of post-smolt (adult) GH transgenic salmon cardiorespiratory physiology, as suggested by symmorphosis, does not occur; and (4) supports the idea that whereas differences in arterial oxygen transport (i.e. cardiac output and blood oxygen carrying capacity) are important determinants of inter-specific differences in aerobicity, diffusion-limited processes must be enhanced to achieve substantial intra-specific improvements in metabolic and swimming performance.