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Phytase-producing bacteria in the digestive tracts of some freshwater fish


Correspondence: Prof. A K Ray, Fisheries Laboratory, Department of Zoology, Visva-Bharati University, Santiniketan 731 235, West Bengal, India. E-mail:


Isolation and enumeration of phytase-producing bacterial flora in the foregut and hindgut regions of the gastrointestinal tracts of 10 culturable freshwater teleosts of different feeding habits, namely rohu (Labeo rohita), catla (Catla catla), mrigal (Cirrhinus mrigala), bata (Labeo bata), kalbasu (Labeo calbasu), Nile tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus), climbing perch (Anabas testudineus), common carp (Cyprinus carpio), silver carp (Hypophthalmichthys molitrix) and grass carp (Ctenopharyngodon idella), have been carried out. Microbial culture of the gut mucosa on selected nutrient media following the enrichment culture technique was performed for bacterial isolation. The bacterial isolates were screened on the basis of their enzyme-producing ability. The bacterial population on the tryptone soya agar (TSA) plate was maximum in the hindgut region of bata, followed by mrigal and minimum in the foregut region of Nile tilapia. In modified phytase screening medium (MPSM), phytase-producing strains were recorded at higher densities in the foregut region of mrigal and grass carp and minimum in the foregut region of bata. In case of the hindgut, maximum phytase-producing strains were present in grass carp and mrigal and minimum in rohu. In general, in MPSM, the bacterial population was lower in the hindgut region of all the 10 species of fish examined. The phytase-producing ability of the selected 31 strains (16 from the foregut and 15 from the hindgut region) was determined by clearing zones on phytate-containing plates. Among these isolates, 22 strains (12 from the foregut and 10 from the hindgut region) were selected as potent phytase producers according to a quantitative enzyme assay. The highest phytase activity was observed in the bacterial strains LF1 and LH1 isolated from the fore and the hindgut regions of rohu respectively. Both the strains were identified as Bacillus licheniformis on the basis of phenotypic characteristics as well as 16S rDNA sequence analysis.