In stock enhancement and sea-ranching procedures, the adipose fin of hundreds of millions of salmonids is removed for marking purposes annually. However, recent studies proved the significance of the adipose fin as a flow sensor and attraction feature. In the present study, we profiled the specific expression of 20 neuron- and glial cell-marker genes in the adipose fin and seven other tissues (including dorsal and pectoral fin, brain, skin, muscle, head kidney, and liver) of the salmonid species rainbow trout Oncorhynchus mykiss
and maraena whitefish Coregonus maraena.
Moreover, we measured the transcript abundance of genes coding for 15 mechanoreceptive channel proteins from a variety of mechanoreceptors known in vertebrates. The overall expression patterns indicate the presence of the entire repertoire of neurons, glial cells and receptor proteins on the RNA level. This quantification suggests that the adipose fin contains considerable amounts of small nerve fibers with unmyelinated or slightly myelinated axons and most likely mechanoreceptive potential. The findings are consistent for both rainbow trout and maraena whitefish and support a previous hypothesis about the innervation and potential flow sensory function of the adipose fin. Moreover, our data suggest that the resection of the adipose fin has a stronger impact on the welfare of salmonid fish than previously assumed.
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