To provide insight into the reasons why offspring of certain salmonine females exhibit early mortality syndrome (EMS) in the Great Lakes whereas others do not, we measured the egg concentrations of potential biochemical markers (stable isotopes of nitrogen and carbon, fatty acid signatures, and lipid-soluble carotenoids and vitamins) that are indicative of differing food web and trophic structure. To corroborate the presence of EMS, we also measured the egg content of thiamine vitamers. For all the stocks of coho salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch and Chinook salmon O. tshawytscha we studied, there was a very high correspondence between EMS and low concentrations of unphosphorylated thiamine in unfertilized eggs. For salmonine stocks in the Platte River, Thompson Creek, and the Swan River, Michigan, small but significant shifts occurred in measures of egg carotenoids, retinoids, ??15N depletion, and fatty acid profiles of fish producing normal offspring relative to those exhibiting EMS. Egg thiamine concentrations in Chinook salmon from the Little Manistee River, Michigan, in the low-EMS group were only marginally above the threshold for EMS induction. Along with this small thiamine differential, there was no evidence of differing food web or dietary factors between EMS-positive and normal Chinook salmon from the Little Manistee River. Further investigations are required to determine the potential dietary sources for the observed differences in biochemical markers between EMS-positive and normal fish. These findings are generally consistent with the hypothesis that a more diverse forage base may help to limit overall dietary content of species that contain thiaminase, such as alewives Alosa pseudoharengus, and may lead to improved embryonic survival for feral salmonids. ?? Copyright by the American Fisheries Society 2005.
Additional publication details
Can diet-dependent factors help explain fish-to-fish variation in thiamine-dependent early mortality syndrome?