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Research Article
 

Assessment of Haematology and Proximate Composition of Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) Population Groups for Genetic Improvements



U.A. Mikaheel, L.A. Argungu, W.A. Hassan, H. Jibrin, T. Mamman and S.A. Sadiq
 
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ABSTRACT

Background and Objective: Clarias gariepinus with the common name “African catfish” is one of the most important tropical catfish species for aquaculture in Nigeria. It is widely cultured in Nigeria. However, one of the major difficulties being faced in most fish hatcheries and production farms is infectious diseases. Therefore, this research was conducted on the haematology and proximate composition of three population groups of C. gariepinus to identify a hardier population group that can be recommended for such genetic modifications. Materials and Methods: The haematology and proximate analyses of Clarias gariepinus were carried out on these ecotypes for the wild and cultured systems. An automated blood analyser was used for the haematological analysis, while the proximate analyses were carried out following the standard laboratory protocol of the National Institute of Freshwater Fisheries Research, New Bussa. Results: The results revealed variations in the blood composition of the C. gariepinus population groups studied and both the environmental and genetic references indicated that population group A (wild) is superior to the other two population groups B and C (pooled cross and Dutch) having a highest significant mean value of Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) alongside other parameters and was therefore recommended for the improvement of the cultured stocks. Conclusion: This research concludes that there is variation in the blood composition of the C. gariepinus P. Groups studied and both the environmental and genetic references indicated that the P. Group A is superior to the other two. P. Groups B and C had the highest significant mean value of Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC).

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U.A. Mikaheel, L.A. Argungu, W.A. Hassan, H. Jibrin, T. Mamman and S.A. Sadiq, 2022. Assessment of Haematology and Proximate Composition of Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) Population Groups for Genetic Improvements. Asian Journal of Animal and Veterinary Advances, 17: 98-104.

DOI: 10.3923/ajava.2022.98.104

URL: https://scialert.net/abstract/?doi=ajava.2022.98.104
 
Received: December 14, 2021; Accepted: March 17, 2022; Published: June 30, 2022



INTRODUCTION

Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) with the common name “African catfish” is one of the most important tropical catfish species for aquaculture in Nigeria. It is widely cultured in Nigeria and many tropical and subtropical regions of the world1. It constitutes one of the largest groups of farmed freshwater fishes in Nigeria. The rapid increase in aquaculture production in recent years in Nigeria has come from the increasing intensified culture systems for this commercially potent species. However, one of the major difficulties being faced in most fish hatcheries and production farms is infectious diseases. Fish immune response systems are not so well developed as those of mammals2. Several claims of selective breeding for disease resistance to specific pathogens in farm fish have little evidence in quantitative genetic control for such characters3. Furthermore, attempts to improve farm fish’s resistance to certain diseases by selective breeding have not been highly successful2. Seasonal variation and uncontrollable environmental conditions influence the immunity and resistance of fish more than the genetic inherence of the fish both in the wild aquatic environment and under culture conditions2. In a reflection on the difficulties posed by the various traditional genetic approaches to improve farm fish’s genetic disease resistance, the modern genetics of gene transfer may offer a more direct solution to this problem. Therefore, this research was conducted on the haematology and proximate composition of three population groups of C. gariepinus to identify a hardier C. gariepinus population group that can be recommended for such genetic modification. Population group A is a representative sample of the indigenous wild gene pool of C. gariepinus from the most exploited river Rima, Sokoto, the population group C was a pure line of the most commonly cultured strain of cultured Clarias gariepinus in Sokoto, while population group B has a shared genetic pedigree with the earlier mentioned population groups4. As such an improved breed of C. gariepinus bred with adequate knowledge of genetic potency for disease resistance is expectedly envisaged to be resistant enough and possess ontogenetic disease resistance alleles for subsequent progenies. The proximate analysis is a test of the end quality of what the fish may be in terms of nutritional value after the improvement.

Clarias gariepinus is well distributed in Nigeria and across Africa, spreading from the Nile through West Africa, Algeria and to Southern Africa. They are also found in Asia Minor, Israel, Syria and the Southern part of Turkey.

Phenotypically, C. gariepinus is a non-scaled fish, its dorsal and anal fins are extended, with strong pectoral fins. Spines are either serrated or not serrated at all as described by Oyebola et al.5. Clariidae is elongated, it has four pairs of barbells. this family is equipped with a suprabranchial organ, continuous from the folds of the second and fourth branchial arch and this equips the fishes of this family with the accessory breathing organ to breathe with atmospheric oxygen, for some time, outside the water6. They are also known as “walking catfish” because of their ability to crawl several metres on land using their pectoral spines6.

The genus Clarias consists of 35 valid species and is the third most diverse catfish genus in Africa. Onyekwelu et al. 6 identified six subgenera in this genus: Anguilloclarias, Brevicephaloides, Clarias, Clarioides, Dinotopteroides and Platycephaloides. The subgenus Clarias includes only two valid species: C. gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) and C. anguillaris7, the former being of greater economic importance, as it is the most cultured catfish in Africa and the third most cultured catfish species in the world8.

The head is large, depressed equipped with a thick bony skull bigger than the rest of the body in growing C. gariepinus but has a considerable proportional head to body size in the advanced growth stage of the fish species9. The mouth is large and sub-terminal equipped with vomerine teeth10. In C. gariepinus, respiratory gaseous exchange takes place in the gill filaments6. The main constraint facing the culture of C. gariepinus is the low survival during the larval and fingerling stages11 leading to insufficient amounts of quality catfish seed. High mortality rates occur among larval stages of C. gariepinus11. therefore, there is the need for aquaculture stocks improvement for resistance to fry/fingerlings common hatchery diseases. Genetic improvement of the stock will profer the best solution to the foregoing problem, therefore, there is the need for the assessment of haematology and proximate composition of Clarias gariepinus (Burchell, 1822) population groups from river Rima for genetic improvements of the local aquaculture stocks.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Study area: This research was conducted in Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, located on 130°7ʹ38.9ʹʹN and 5°12ʹ19.0E within Sokoto. Sokoto is in the savannah agro-ecological zone (latitude 13°0027.0ʹʹN and longitude 5°15ʹ05.6ʹʹE), about 350 m above the sea level. The study was carried out in the Fish Biology Laboratory of the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Usmanu Danfodiyo University, Sokoto, between May and November, 2017, because rainfall establishes between mid May to early June and peaks in August. The climate is semi-arid with rainfall of between 550 and 700 mm. The dry season starts from mid October, to late April12. Sokoto receives an average annual temperature of 30.26°C and average annual relative humidity of 48.54%12.

Fish sample collection: Live samples of C. gariepinus were collected from the river Rima (population group A), Kwalkwalawa area and two other selected fish farms (population groups B and C). The collected samples were taken to the laboratory for blood sample collection and tissue samples for haematological and proximate analysis respectively.

Experimental procedure: Blood samples measuring 1.5 mL each were collected from the caudal peduncle as described by Ibiyo et al.13. The blood samples of the fish collected from each population group were taken to a commercial laboratory and subjected to haematological analysis to determine the following parameters, using an automated haematological analysing machine (Haematology analyser, Genesis AH6000) for haematological analyses. White Blood Cell (WBC), Red Blood Cell (RBC), Packed Cell Volume (HCT/PCV), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin (MCH), Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentrate (MCHC), Mean Cell Volume (MCV) while 100 g each of oven-dried fish tissue samples from the three population groups were taken to the Central Laboratory of the National Institute of Freshwater Fisheries Research, (NIFFR), New-Bussa for proximate analyses. The proximate analyses were done following NIFFR Central Laboratory Protocols.

Statistical analyses: Data was exported into SPSS version 20 (IBM SPSS) for descriptive analysis. Analyses were done based on population groups for haematological parameters and the proximate composition of the different fish population groups. Means comparison and separation were by (DNMRT).

RESULTS

Haematology of the three C. gariepinus population groups: Table 1 presents the results of the measured haematological parameters. It was only the mean cell volume (MCV) and Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Cells (MCHC), that revealed a true between ecotype significant (p<0.05) variation. The mean cell volume (MCV) of the population group A (109.73±1.33) fL was significantly lower (p<0.05) than the two cultured population groups B and C. Population group B (123.13±1.87 fL), was significantly the same (p>0.05) as (118.40±3.31 fL) recorded by population group C. The Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Cells (MCHC) recorded by the wild population group was 29.58±0.49 g dL1, which was significantly (p<0.05) the highest value than those recorded by the two cultured population groups. Population group B recorded the lowest significant MCHC of 25.43±1.11 g dL1, while population group C recorded 27.73±0.77ab g dL1, with an intermediate significant (p<0.05) difference between the other two population groups. However, The White Blood Cell (WBC), Red Blood Cell (RBC), Haemoglobin (HGB), MCH and HCT volumes were not significantly different (p>0.05) across the three fish population groups.

Table 1: Comparative Haematology of the three fish population groups
Sample sources
P. Group A
P. Group B
P. Group C
Parameters
Mean±SE
SD
Mean±SE
SD
Mean±SE
SD
WBC (109 L1)
68.07±4.14a
8.3
57.86±15.74a
31.47
54.22±13.20a
26.41
RBC (1012 L1)
2.96±0.11a
0.21
2.66±0.58a
1.14
2.55±0.39a
0.77
HGB (g dL1)
9.63±0.48a
0.96
8.13±1.64a
3.29
8.35±1.26a
2.52
MCHC (g dL1)
29.58±0.49a
0.97
25.43±1.11b
2.22
27.73±0.77ab
1.55
MCH (pg)
32.40±0.50a
1
31.25±0.96a
1.91
32.78±0.39a
0.77
MCV (fL)
109.73±1.33b
2.65
123.13±1.87a
3.73
118.40±3.31a
6.63
HCT/PCV (%)
32.48±1.42a
2.84
32.93±7.25a
14.5
30.50±5.35a
10.69
Means in rows with same letters are not significantly different (p>0.05), P. Group: Population group, WBC: White blood cell, RBC: Red blood cell, HGB: Haemoglobin, HTC/PCV: Haematocrit/packed cell volume, MCH: Mean corpuscular haemoglobin, MCHC: Mean corpuscular haemoglobin concentrate and (MCHC): Mean cell volume (MCV)


Table 2: Proximate analysis of the C. gariepinus population groups
Groups
Moisture
Fat
Protein
Crude fibre
Ash
NFE
P. Group A
6.09±0.24a
24.09±0.24b
62.90±0.02b
0.61±0.01
5.19±0.13
1.14±0.17a
P. Group B
5.18±0.08b
25.13±0.15a
63.15±0.13ab
0.57±0.02
5.16±0.01
0.82±0.06ab
P. Group C
4.26±0.01c
25.72±0.60a
63.38±0.03a
0.65±0.32
5.41±0.01
0.55±0.01b
Mean in columns with the same superscripts are not significantly different (p>0.05), P. Group: Population group and NFE: Nitrogen free extracts

Proximate composition of the three C. gariepinus population groups: Table 2 presents the result of the proximate composition of the three fish population groups. It was observed that the protein and NFE constituents of the population groups vary across the population groups, with the P. Group C being the significantly (p<0.05) highest mean value 63.38±0.03 than the other two P. Groups studied. The fat content was significantly different between the ecotypes, with the P. Group C having the highest value than the other two P. Groups. Here the wild P. Group were found to be inferior to the other two P. Groups.

DISCUSSION

The mean cell volume (MCV) which varied only between the ecotypes is also an indication that variations do exist among the P. Groups studied. Though the WBC which is major immune response blood cell are similar across the P. Groups, one cannot outrightly deny the fact that haemoglobin is also an important component of blood that helps in the absorption of iron which is essential for cellular respiration and thus has a critical role to play in the fight against infections. There are different types of environmental factors that can impair the normal physiological processes of fish and thus compromise their health. if allowed to exceed certain limits, inverse relationships between environmental factors and fish disease are commonly reported in aquaculture14. The aquatic habitat of fish is the principal component of the environment that influences fish's health. the most critical water quality conditions that are readily influenced by biological activity and therefore of primary concern in aquaculture, include dissolved oxygen (DO), un-ionized ammonia, nitrite, carbon dioxide and pH tolerable and lethal concentrations for many of these constituents have been documented for many species of fish15. Some physico-chemical water quality parameters that are not alterable by biological activities, such as alkalinity, hardness, salinity, temperature and turbidity may also affect fish’s health, especially if they are not within tolerable ranges. Different fish species may vary considerably in terms of specific tolerance limits for various water quality parameters16. In addition to these natural components which deteriorate water quality, there is are different natural and synthetic chemicals that may compromise water quality and consequently affect the health of fish. Haematological parameters have been widely used in the clinical diagnosis of diseases and pathogens of both humans, animals and fish13,17. The application of haematological analyses is valuable also in the study of fish biology and nutrition for the monitoring of fish health, diseases, nutrient utilization and stress17. Morphologically, the cells identified in the blood of cichlids include, erythrocytes, thrombocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, basophils, lymphocytes and monocytes13. Lymphocytes are the most numerous cells comprising the leucocytes which function in the production of antibodies and chemical substances involved in defence against infections18. An increase in white blood cell (leucopenia) as observed in the fish is attributed to an increase in production of leucocytes in the spleen19,20.

The result of the haematological analyses as presented in Table 1 above revealed not much variation among the C. gariepinus population groups studied. All the seven parameters analysed fell within the same mean value range which makes it difficult to think of any genetic variation as to the production of such blood cells. Meanwhile, Omitoyin et al.19 reported the PCV 15.00, HB 15.00, RBC 2.60, MCV 57.69, MCHC 33.33 WBC of 11.500 when fed C. gariepinus with poultry litter. Sotulo and Faturoti,21 reported that reduction of PCV, Hb and MCV values could be attributed to the toxins or anti-nutrient factor in the fish feed ingredient22. Results of these authors followed a conducted research while this current research seeks to establish a default condition of the C. gariepinus population groups. However, two of the parameters measured were found to be significantly different, one of which exhibited a between Population group variation and the other varied across the fish population groups. Meanwhile, Periayah et al.23 found out that there was an inverse correlation between the Mean Cell Volume (MCV) and the number of circulating Red Blood Cells (RBC). Adedeji et al.24 while working on different freshwater species from Asejire dam, to set a standard value for the haematological parameter, reported RBC of 3.03 and MCV of 99.58 for C. gariepinus. This result revealed a lower RBC for the three fish population groups and generally high MCV across the population groups. This may be due to geographical location or distance between the experimental locations from the authors cited above. It is worthy of note that as much as hereditarily genetic as the composition of blood is, the physico-chemical, nutritional and other environmental factors of the fish’s habitat could influence the expression of such characteristics that may be observed at a certain time of a year or season to a great extent.

Also, of all the haematological indices studied, only the Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) exhibited variations across the three fish population groups pointing to the superiority of population group A (wild fish P. group). This is an indication that the wild population group A has more resistance to depletion in dissolved oxygen than the cultured Population groups B and C. While the P. Group B is also superior to C about this gene-environment controlled character. Mikaheel et al.25 described ecotype-based variations in electrophoretic dissipation of the blood serum of wild (river Rima) and cultured C. gariepinus from Sokoto metropolis. These authors noticed a clear variation in the protein banding pattern between the ecotypes and Toth et al.26 stated that electrophoretic banding pattern can directly be linked to the gene encoding the protein. The variation here in the blood composition as a function of protein transcription could be said to be in line with the findings of these authors. The mean cell volume (MCV) which varied only between the ecotypes is also an indication that variations do exist among the P. Groups studied. Though the WBC which is major immune response blood cell are similar across the P. Groups, one cannot outrightly deny the fact that haemoglobin is also an important component of blood that helps in the absorption of iron which is essential for cellular respiration and thus has a critical role to play in the fight against infections.

Fish provide varying nutritional qualities based on the species or seasons27,28. It's however, important to note that the varying seasons dictate the water quality parameters of the fish’s habitat. This habitat may also have varying physico-chemical parameters based on the location and the biotic habitats of the water body. Either wild or culture Ecotype system has an important role to play in the constituent solution of aquatic habitat. Moisture, dry matter, protein, lipids, vitamins and minerals are the most important components that act as sources of nutritive value of fish products18. The moisture content also varies across the group, while thinking of assertions that varying moisture content can result from exposure time to drying facility, intensity of drying (temperature) and the average initial moisture content of the fish. The latter assertion agreed with Aberoumad and Pourshafi29 who reported that a good indication of relative energy, protein and lipid composition of flesh could be derived from its moisture content. Fish meat has low lipids and higher water than beef or chicken to a significant level30. The total lipid and ash content of fish is greatly affected by an increase in weight or length of the fish may also change with the season habitats and feed fed to the fish1,31. Although documented reports from different parts of the world indicate that seasonal variations may be responsible for differences in haematology and the proximate compositions of different animals including fish, fish being cold-blooded is more affected by those changes. Essentially, this study has established a default condition of C. gariepinus population groups from the wild and culture conspecifics from the research area. This will serve as baseline genetic information and a filled knowledge gap that can be applied to further research on the genetic resources of the species. Knowledge about obtainable strains of C. gariepinus within the research area and how this information gathered about the strains may influence outcomes of further research, not only in fish genetics and breeding but also, in other fields of fisheries sciences, fish biology, fish biotechnology, fish nutrition, fish post-harvest technology, conservation sciences, biodiversity and fish population dynamics.

CONCLUSION

There is variation in the blood composition of the C. gariepinus P. Groups studied and both the environmental and genetic references indicated that the P. Group A is superior to the other two P. Groups B and C by recording the highest significant mean value of Mean Corpuscular Haemoglobin Concentration (MCHC) and this is considered as one of the characteristics that aid the biological absorption of iron for dissolved oxygen utilization. This research, therefore, recommends that the P. Group A (wild) can be selected based on MCHC over the P. Groups B and C for genetic improvements for disease-resistant farm fish.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT

Many hatcheries folded up at a point in time or quit operation due to high mortality of C. gariepinus at fry stages, which can be averted through genetically guided intraspecific selective breeding of wild and cultured C. gariepinus. The findings of this research will serve as baseline genetic information for successful selection based breeding programs and for further genetic research on the fisheries of River Rima and other water bodies with related characteristics.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Sincere gratitude to Late Prof. J.K. Ipinjolu, he was the major backbone of this research but has passed away as at the time of compiling this manuscript. He was a father, teacher, supervisor, mentor, lecturer and role model to me and many others. He was indeed a rare gem in our midst we never knew we could lose so soon. I pray that his gentle soul continues to rest in peace.

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