Minnesota Aquatic Invasive Species Research Center (MAISRC)
New peer-reviewed paper provides insights into Asian carp feeding success and offers opportunities for control
MAISRC researchers, along with their colleagues at Louisiana State University and University of Colorado, have published the results of a study that may help us figure out how to control Asian carps. Dr. Peter Sorensen led a team, including post-doctoral researcher Ratna Ghosal and graduate student Aaron Claus, that discovered the key role that a unique organ plays in the feeding behavior of these fish. They found that the epibranchial organ, a tubular structure located at the back of the mouth, is covered in taste buds (pictured) and other chemosensory receptor cells that help Asian carps identify and accumulate tiny food particles from the plethora of debris ingested while they feed. The carps’ ability to consume vast quantities of these tiny plankton particles makes them among the fastest growing fish in the Mississippi. It has also led to the depletion of these small organisms at the base of the food chain, which is why these carps pose such a threat to our native fisheries. Researchers believe that the unique food sorting ability of Asian carps may be a vulnerability that future control methods can exploit—for example, this system can now be targeted with toxins or used to develop feeding attractants. The paper has been published ahead of print in the Journal of Experimental Biology.