FAO has considered production of fish protein to be paramount to supply human population in the next 50 years, leading to the concept of “Blue Revolution”. Although large quantities of fish larvae are produced by aquaculture industry, survival rates are often low or highly variable and growth potential is in most cases not fully exploited. The larval survival rates for the major Mediterranean farmed species of marine fish are commonly around 10%.
The link between diet and metabolism is well established, and new genomic technologies have made possible the research of nutritional modulation of metabolism with nutrients, micronutrients and phytochemicals. Omic-based studies have allowed to provide insights into how nutritional stimuli, acting both in the embryo and beyond birth, during the early phases of development, may have a long-term impact on cellular structure and function. Thus, discovering new methods to improve gastrointestinal tract maturation and concomitantly digestive efficiency without compromising survival and fitness represents a very promising avenue in fish nutrition research.
The objective of PROLAR project is to promote intestinal maturation and functionality in fish larvae through early nutrition and metabolic programming. Accumulated evidence in humans show that fetal under- and over-nutrition induce long-term changes in the offspring through epigenetic modifications, and the influence of intestinal microbiota on physiology is now widely recognized. Given that diet shapes the intestinal microbiota, this raises the question of how the nutritional environment and microbial assemblages influence animal physiology. This research field constitutes a new frontier in the field of nutrition that needs to be addressed.
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