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Microb Biotechnol. 2016 Sep;9(5):576-84. doi: 10.1111/1751-7915.12392. Epub 2016 Jul 24.

Monitoring and managing microbes in aquaculture - Towards a sustainable industry.

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Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine, Technical University of Denmark, Matematiktorvet Bldg. 301, DK-2800, Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark.


Microorganisms are of great importance to aquaculture where they occur naturally, and can be added artificially, fulfilling different roles. They recycle nutrients, degrade organic matter and, occasionally, they infect and kill the fish, their larvae or the live feed. Also, some microorganisms may protect fish and larvae against disease. Hence, monitoring and manipulating the microbial communities in aquaculture environments hold great potential; both in terms of assessing and improving water quality, but also in terms of controlling the development of microbial infections. Using microbial communities to monitor water quality and to efficiently carry out ecosystem services within the aquaculture systems may only be a few years away. Initially, however, we need to thoroughly understand the microbiomes of both healthy and diseased aquaculture systems, and we need to determine how to successfully manipulate and engineer these microbiomes. Similarly, we can reduce the need to apply antibiotics in aquaculture through manipulation of the microbiome, i.e. by the use of probiotic bacteria. Recent studies have demonstrated that fish pathogenic bacteria in live feed can be controlled by probiotics and that mortality of infected fish larvae can be reduced significantly by probiotic bacteria. However, the successful management of the aquaculture microbiota is currently hampered by our lack of knowledge of relevant microbial interactions and the overall ecology of these systems.

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