Huge congratulations to Ricardo Domingo Breton, PhD student from IATS-CSIC (Spain), who won the Student Spotlight Award at Aquaculture Europe 2023 for best-submitted abstract to the event!

Ricardo’s abstract and associated presentation were related to results obtained from a Transnational Access (TNA) project, focusing on the use of intestinal microbiota as a marker of thermal stress in gilthead sea bream (Sparus aurata). The project was carried out at the Nutrigenomics and Fish Growth Endocrinology Group of the Institute of Aquaculture Torre de la Sal (IATS-CSIC, Spain) in collaboration with the company Nukamel (the Netherlands). Ricardo’s presentation, titled: “Gilthead sea bream microbiota shifts associated with thermal stress and dietary intervention during a record heat summer” was considered the best among those delivered by students at the conference.

The TNA project investigated the impact of incorporating a commercial emulsifier (Volamel Aqua, Nukamel) alongside varying levels of dietary lipids on the intestinal microbiota of gilthead sea bream. This study coincided with an unprecedented peak in water temperature during the scorching summer of 2022 along the Mediterranean coast of Spain. In this context, the intestinal microbiota emerged as a robust marker of thermal stress. Notably, the inclusion of the commercial emulsifier, either independently or in combination with reduced lipid levels in the diet, mitigated the microbiota dysbiosis induced by the high temperatures. Simultaneously, stress markers in the blood, such as glucose and cortisol, followed a similar pattern of decrease, mirroring the reduction in Brevinema abundances.

This finding opens the door to using microbiota, specifically the Brevinema genus, as a reliable marker of thermal stress. This breakthrough could prove invaluable in evaluating the efficacy of future strategies aimed at alleviating the impacts of thermal stress in gilthead sea bream—an especially pertinent consideration in the broader context of a climate crisis.