Poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) increases growth performance and intestinal bacterial range-weighted richness in juvenile European sea bass, Dicentrarchus labrax
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The bacterial storage polymer poly-β-hydroxybutyrate (PHB) has the potential to be used as an alternative anti-infective strategy for aquaculture rearing. In this research, the effects of (partially) replacing the feed of European sea bass juveniles with PHB were investigated. During a 6-week trial period, the PHB showed the ability to act as an energy source for the fish. This indicated that PHB was degraded and used during gastrointestinal passage. The gut pH decreased from 7.7 to 7.2 suggesting that the presence of PHB in the gut led to the increased production of (short-chain fatty) acids. The diets supplemented with 2% and 5% PHB (w/w) induced a gain of the initial fish weight with a factor 2.4 and 2.7, respectively, relative to a factor 2.2 in the normal feed treatment. Simultaneously, these treatments showed the highest bacterial range-weighted richness in the fish intestine. Based on molecular analysis, higher dietary PHB levels induced larger changes in the bacterial community composition. From our results, it seems that PHB can have a beneficial effect on fish growth performance and that the intestinal bacterial community structure may be closely related to this phenomenon.
KeywordsPrebiotics Antibiotics Infection Growth promoting agent Host–microbe interactions
This work was performed and funded within the frame of the Research Foundation of Flanders (FWO) project ‘‘Probiont-induced functional responses in aquatic organisms” and the European FP7 project “Promicrobe-Microbes as positive actors for more sustainable aquaculture” (Project Reference: 227197). The authors would also like to thank Dr. ir. Tom Defoirdt, lic. Kristof Dierckens and ir. Charlotte Grootaert for the critical reading of the manuscript and the helpful suggestions.
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