During horizontal or water-borne infection involving an obligate pathogen (e.g. – Aeromonas salmonicida, cause of furunculosis), the pathogen interacted with and influenced the microbial diversity of the dermal mucus of fish. Prior to infection, the prevalent bacterial flora cultured from juvenile Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) included Pseudomonas fluorescens, Comomonas terrigenia, Acinetobacter sp., Moraxella sp., Pseudomonas dimunita, Alcaligenes denitrificans, Pseudomonas pseudoalcaligenes, and Pseudomonas alcaligenes, Serratia liquefaciens, Aeromonas hydrophila, other motile Aeromonas spp., and Corynebacterium aquaticum. After A. salmonicida was initially detected in this population as an external mucus infection, Acinetobacter sp., Moraxella sp., C. terrigenia, P. fluorescens, and P. dimunita, Staphylococcus sp., and A. hydrophila, were also present in appreciable numbers. Within several weeks, however, the A. salmonicida infection amplified and composed 78% of the total flora in the mucus. Only P. dimunita (4%). P. fluorescens (2%), and C. terrigenia (1%) were cultured at that time and more than a third of these fish showed evidence of a systemic A. salmonicida infection within their kidneys. Eight weeks after oral oxytetracycline treatments, A. salmonicida was no longer isolated from the mucus or kidneys of any fish and glucose inert or other oxidative microbes (e.g., P. fluorescens, C. terrigenia, Acinetobacter sp., Moraxella sp.) were beginning to repopulate the external surface of the salmon in increasing frequency. Still present and composing fairly large percentages of the total flora were A. hydrophila, as well as Enterobacter sp., and P. putrefaciens. A normal microbial diversity was re-established as the fish recovered. In another investigation, reduced biological diversity was noted in the dermal mucus among smallmouth bass that were sampled from the Jackson River (Covington, VA). In these fish, A. hydrophila and P. putrefaciens were the two predominant microorganisms composing 49.5% and 31.2% of the total bacterial flora, despite the absence of systemic infection or any other clinical signs of disease. In another instance, P. fluorescens was the sole bacterium associated with the surface of Atlantic salmon eggs regardless of their viability at the eyed stage of development. Collectively, these results indicate that the kinetics and distributions of the surface bacterial flora on aquatic organisms is affected by numerous factors including pathogen invasion, environmental conditions, and fish culture practices.
Additional Publication Details
Far from superficial: microbial diversity associated with the skin and mucus of fish