All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Stephen A Watts

Advisory Committee Members

Melissa L Harris

Mickie L Powell

Daniel L Smith

Addison L Lawrence

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) College of Arts and Sciences


The common zebrafish Danio rerio is a useful model for human health. Effective utilization of this model required development of husbandry and reproductive protocols as well as genomic sequencing and creation of relevant molecular techniques. However, the dietary needs of the species remain woefully under investigated. At this time no chemically-defined open source diets are available to the zebrafish research community. Consequently, those labs utilizing the zebrafish model rely on commercial diets that may not provide adequate nutrition and lack consistency needed for rigorous and reproducible research. The first focus of these studies was to examine the current state of knowledge of zebrafish nutrition and nutrient-gene interactions. Here, we also provided recommendations for nutritional reporting, diet development, and future research thrusts. The second focus of the study was to understand the impacts of dietary macronutrients, including protein, carbohydrate and fat, on growth demographics, changes in body composition, and markers of health. Additionally, novel and sustainable protein sources were evaluated for inclusion into defined zebrafish diets. Evaluation of protein source and quantity showed decreased body lipid and increased body length, height, and weight with increasing dietary protein content. Fish fed soy and fish protein sources had higher body lipid compared to fish fed casein and mixed protein sources. A LASSO analysis showed protein:energy ratio and protein type impacted body lipid. Evaluation of egg protein replacement (using either egg white or whole egg) for fish protein showed no differences in body length, weight, lipid, or blood glucose compared to isolipidic controls. Liver gene expression of whole egg and fish protein diet fed fish showed no differences in metabolic profiles using RNAseq. Consumption of single cell bacterial protein compared to fish protein resulted in no differences in body length and weight, but did result in lower female body lipid. Furthermore, liver expression showed genes impacted by single cell bacterial protein were related to cholesterol homeostasis, endoplasmic reticulum stress and protein refolding response, and metabolism. We suggest these studies will contribute to our understanding of dietary nutritional requirements, leading to the further development of health profiles that improve the application of this animal model and its translation to human health. Keywords: Zebrafish, Danio rerio, Nutrition, Protein, Single Cell Protein, Egg, Reproduction, Transcriptomics, Growth, Adiposity, Aquaculture, Nutrigenomics