Fish Physiology and Biochemistry

, Volume 43, Issue 2, pp 397–409 | Cite as

Developmental changes in digestive enzyme activity in American shad, Alosa sapidissima, during early ontogeny

  • Xiao-Qiang Gao
  • Zhi-Feng Liu
  • Chang-Tao Guan
  • Bin Huang
  • Ji-Lin Lei
  • Juan Li
  • Zheng-Long Guo
  • Yao-Hui Wang
  • Lei Hong


In order to assess the digestive physiological capacity of the American shad Alosa sapidissima and to establish feeding protocols that match larval nutritional requirements, we investigated the ontogenesis of digestive enzymes (trypsin, amylase, lipase, pepsin, alkaline phosphatase, and leucine aminopeptidase) in larvae, from hatching to 45 days after hatching (DAH). We found that all of the target enzymes were present at hatching, except pepsin, which indicated an initial ability to digest nutrients and precocious digestive system development. Trypsin rapidly increased to a maximum at 14 DAH. Amylase sharply increased until 10 DAH and exhibited a second increase at 33 DAH, which coincided with the introduction of microdiet at 30 DAH, thereby suggesting that the increase was associated with the microdiet carbohydrate content. Lipase increased until 14 DAH, decreased until 27 DAH, and then increased until 45 DAH. Pepsin was first detected at 27 DAH and then sharply increased until 45 DAH, which suggested the formation of a functional stomach. Both alkaline phosphatase and leucine aminopeptidase markedly increased until 18 DAH, which indicated intestinal maturation. According to our results, we conclude that American shad larvae possess the functional digestive system before mouth opening, and the significant increases in lipase, amylase, pepsin, and intestinal enzyme activities between 27 and 33 DAH suggest that larvae can be successfully weaned onto microdiets around this age.


American shad Alosa sapidissima Larval development Digestive enzyme activities Ontogeny 



This study was supported by the Qingdao Postdoctoral Application Research Project (Q51201611) and State Level Commonweal Project of Research Institutes (20603022015005). We are grateful to the Jiangsu Zhongyang Group for providing the larvae used in the present study and to the Yellow Sea Fisheries Research Institute for their excellent technical assistance.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Xiao-Qiang Gao
    • 1
  • Zhi-Feng Liu
    • 1
  • Chang-Tao Guan
    • 1
  • Bin Huang
    • 1
  • Ji-Lin Lei
    • 1
  • Juan Li
    • 1
  • Zheng-Long Guo
    • 2
  • Yao-Hui Wang
    • 2
  • Lei Hong
    • 1
  1. 1.Key Laboratory for Sustainable Development of Marine Fisheries, Ministry of Agriculture, Qingdao Key Laboratory for Marine Fish Breeding and Biotechnology, Yellow Sea Fisheries Research InstituteChinese Academy of Fishery SciencesQingdaoPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Jiangsu Zhongyang GroupNantongPeople’s Republic of China

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