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AEI 12:327-338 (2020)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00367

No environmental effect on vaccine-induced reduced growth in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts

Thomas W. K. Fraser1,*, Per Gunnar Fjelldal1, Ingunn Sommerset2,5, Tina Søfteland2, Ole Høstmark2, Mark D. Powell3,4, Vegar Heen3,4,6, Tom J. Hansen1

1Reproduction and Developmental Biology Group, Institute of Marine research (IMR), Matre 5, 5984 Matredal, Norway
2MSD Animal Health Norge AS, Thormøhlensgate 55, 5008 Bergen, Norway
3Disease and Pathogen Transmission, Institute of Marine Research, Nordnesgaten 50, 5005 Bergen, Norway
4University of Bergen, Department of Biosciences, Thormøhlensgate 53A, 5020 Bergen, Norway
5Present address: Norwegian Veterinary Institute, Thormøhlensgate 53C, 5006 Bergen, Norway
6Present address: Pharmaq AS, Harbitzalléen 2A, 0275 Oslo, Norway
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Oil-adjuvanted vaccines reduce long-term growth in farmed Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, possibly via an increase in metabolic rate due to the energetic demands of the immune system. We tested this hypothesis by comparing sham-vaccinated to vaccinated smolts (total n = 2096, ca. 80 g) under different scenarios of water temperature (12 vs. 17°C, n = 1048 per temperature) and oxygen (O2) saturation (60, 70, 80, and 100%, n = 524 per O2 saturation level) in order to manipulate metabolic rate and O2 availability. We expected a more severe vaccination effect under conditions of high water temperature and low O2 saturation. Groups were kept in duplicate tanks under controlled temperature and hypoxia conditions for 7 wk post-vaccination before being transferred to uncontrolled common-garden natural conditions for 5 mo in a sea-cage. Body mass and length were recorded at the initiation and end of the controlled and uncontrolled environmental conditions. Vaccination and low O2 saturation at 17°C significantly reduced body mass (13 and 3% through vaccination and 9 and 20% through 60% O2 saturation at the end of the tank and sea-cage periods, respectively). However, there was no interaction between vaccination, temperature, and O2 saturation at the end of the tank or sea-cage period, lending no support to our hypothesis. A secondary observation was that emaciated ‘loser’ fish were mainly associated with the 17°C and low (mainly 60%) O2 saturation treatment. In conclusion, although vaccination led to a reduction in body mass, this effect was not influenced by environmental conditions expected to alter metabolic rate.


KEY WORDS: Dissolved oxygen · Hypoxia · Immunity · Antibody · Temperature · Cataracts · Losers · Skeletal deformity


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Cite this article as: Fraser TWK, Fjelldal PG, Sommerset I, Søfteland T and others (2020) No environmental effect on vaccine-induced reduced growth in Atlantic salmon Salmo salar smolts. Aquacult Environ Interact 12:327-338. https://doi.org/10.3354/aei00367

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