The effect of low-level kelp supplementation on digestive enzyme activity levels in cultured abalone Haliotis midae fed formulated feeds
Previous studies have found that macroalgal inclusion in formulated diets for cultured abalone improves feed utilisation, and it was suggested that seaweed-associated bacteria supply enzymes that aid in the animal’s digestion. In the present study, we hypothesised that kelp supplementation in formulated feed affects the profile of digestive enzymes in farmed Haliotis midae. Commercially reared sub-adult abalone fed a kelp-supplemented (Ecklonia maxima; 0.88% dry weight) or kelp-free control feed were collected for analysis of the amylase, alginate lyase, laminarinase, fucoidanase and protease activities in the gut. Levels of polysaccharidase and protease activity did not significantly differ between the diet treatments. However, enzyme-activity levels were more variable in abalone fed the kelp-free diet as compared with those fed the kelp-supplemented diet (coefficients of variation: 73%, 48.3–60.2% and 31.9% [control diet] versus 42.7%, 13.6–33.8% and 14.6% [KS diet] for amylase, macroalgal polysaccharidases and acid protease activity, respectively). We suggest that the presence of dietary kelp modulates the abalone’s gut bacteria and their nutrient exchange. Proteomic identification of proteins in abalone gut sections showed that exogenous enzymes associated with the gut microbiome aid in bacterial utilisation of digested molecules, whereas abalone endogenous enzymes degrade the macronutrients in formulated feeds.
Keywords: digestion, exogenous enzymes, gastropod, mariculture, proteins, proteomic identification, seaweed, South African abalone