In vitro growth characteristics of five candidate aquaculture probiotics and two fish pathogens grown in fish intestinal mucus


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The selection of probiotics for aquaculture is usually based on their antagonism towards pathogens. However, other criteria such as growth, attachment to intestinal mucus and production of beneficial compounds should also be considered. We suggest a protocol for the isolation and selection of potential probiotic bacteria based on their in vitro growth characteristics and propose a ranking index (RI) to screen potential aquaculture probionts. We suggest that the lag period and doubling time are the most important criteria for the comparison of growth curves, hence the RI is based on the doubling time (td) and lag period (λ) obtained from the growth profile of each bacterium. Bacteria were isolated from the gut of the common clownfish, Amphiprion percula, and screened for antagonistic activity towards seven aquatic pathogens. All five candidate probiotics showed antagonism to various aquatic pathogens. When grown in intestinal fish mucus no probiotic had a RI higher than the two tested pathogens (Aeromonas hydrophila and Vibrio alginolyticus). However, candidate probiont AP1 had a faster specific growth rate (μ) (0.05) than the pathogens (0.049 and 0.047 respectively), while AP5 grown in marine broth had a shorter lag period than the pathogens. Strategies to increase probiotic concentration include the inoculation of high concentrations and the preconditioning of these bacteria to reduce the lag period. It should be tested whether or not such strategies will allow the probiotic bacteria to dominate initially and thereby gain a competitive advantage. This could become an important aspect under in vivo conditions where both attachment and nutrient supply differ from that found in in vitro studies.