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Metabolomics Analysis of Effects of Commercial Soy-based Protein Products in Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus)



Fabio Casu, Aaron Watson, Justin Yost, John Leffler, Gibson Gaylord, Frederic Barrows, Paul A. Sandifer, Dan Bearden, Michael R. Denson


In this study we investigated the metabolic effects of four different commercial soy-based protein products on red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) using NMR-based metabolomics along with unsupervised principal component analysis (PCA) to evaluate metabolic profiles in liver and muscle tissues. Specifically, during a 12-week feeding trial, juvenile red drum maintained in an indoor recirculating aquaculture system were fed four different commercially available soy formulations (diets #2-5), containing the same amount of crude protein, and two reference diets: a 60% soybean meal diet (diet #1) and a natural diet (NATURAL diet) as performance controls. Red drum liver and muscle tissues were sampled at multiple time points to provide an accurate snapshot of specific metabolic states during the grow-out. PCA score plots derived from NMR data sets showed significant differences between fish fed the NATURAL diet and the soy-based diets both in liver and muscle tissues. One of the soy formulations (diet #2) showed significant differences from the other soy-based diets. Using NMR spectroscopy, we identified a series of metabolites responsible for the observed differences. Collectively, our results show that red drum tolerated the inclusion of soy well, with good feed conversion ratios, however when compared to fish fed the natural diet any of the soy-based experimental diets in this study induced a distinct metabolic signature characterized by increased protein and lipid catabolism which negatively affected fish growth, an effect that was even more pronounced for diet #2, suggesting that, despite their balanced formulations in terms of amino acid composition and mineral content, these plant-based alternative feeds still need improvement.
ACS Journal of Proteome Research


aquaculture, metabolomics, NMR, red drum, Sciaenops ocellatus, soy


Casu, F. , Watson, A. , Yost, J. , Leffler, J. , Gaylord, G. , Barrows, F. , Sandifer, P. , Bearden, D. and Denson, M. (2017), Metabolomics Analysis of Effects of Commercial Soy-based Protein Products in Red Drum (Sciaenops ocellatus), ACS Journal of Proteome Research, [online],, (Accessed May 19, 2024)


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Created June 13, 2017, Updated October 12, 2021