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Keywords:

  • fish;
  • gastrointestinal tract;
  • gnotobiotic;
  • microbiota;
  • probiotics;
  • prebiotics

Abstract

The gastrointestinal (GI) tract of an animal consists of a very complex and dynamic microbial ecosystem that is very important from a nutritional, physiological and pathological point of view. A wide range of microbes derived from the surrounding aquatic environment, soil/sediment and feed are found to colonize in the GI tract of fish. Among the microbial groups, bacteria (aerobic, facultative anaerobic and obligate aneraobic forms) are the principal colonizers in the GI tract of fish, and in some fish, yeasts are also reported. The common bacterial colonizers in the GI tract of freshwater and marine fish include Vibrio, Aeromonas, Flavobacterium, Plesiomonas, Pseudomonas, Enterobacteriaceae, Micrococcus, Acinetobacter, Clostridium, Fusarium and Bacteroides, which may vary from species to species as well as environmental conditions. Besides, several unknown bacteria belonging to Mycoplasma, Arthrobacter, Brochothrix, Jeotgailbacillus, Ochrobactrum, Psychrobacter and Sejongia species in the GI tract of different fish species have now been identified successfully using culture-independent techniques. Gnotobiotic and conventional studies indicate the involvement of GI microbiota in fish nutrition, epithelial development, immunity as well as disease outbreak. This review also highlights the need for manipulating the gut microbiota with useful beneficial microbes through probiotic, prebiotic and synbiotic concepts for better fish health management.