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Relative expression of selected immune related genes in larvae of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua L.)


The growth potential of farmed cod in Iceland is heavily restricted which is partly due to high mortalities during early larval stages. The immune system of cod larvae is poorly developed at hatch and the larvae are therefore dependent upon innate immune parameters for their defence against a wide variety and high numbers of environmental microorganisms. Methods for stimulation of innate immune parameters are therefore needed along with reliable techniques for evaluation of various production approaches.
The aim of the present study was to adapt the RT-qPCR method for quantitative analysis of the expression of selected innate immune related genes, mIgM, g-type lysozyme and hepcidin, during early life stages of cod larvae. Additionally, the effects of probiotic treatment using a mixture of two bacterial isolates, Arthrobacter sp. and Enterococcus sp., were evaluated through expression analysis of the selected genes.
The results indicate that the RT-qPCR method was successful at monitoring the transcriptional development of the selected genes from hatch to mid metamorphosis. The results furthermore indicate that probiotic treatment may have stimulated the expression of mIgM, as different results were obtained depending on the analytical approach applied. Larval survival and the expression of g-type lysozyme and hepcidin were not affected by the treatment. Further analysis is required to determine the effects of probiotic treatment on mIgM expression of larvae and to study the effects of various treatments and production methods on the innate immune system of cod larvae.


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