Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 20, pp 8403–8417 | Cite as

Modulation of the intestinal microbiota and morphology of tilapia, Oreochromis niloticus, following the application of a multi-species probiotic

  • B . T. Standen
  • A. Rodiles
  • D. L. Peggs
  • S. J. Davies
  • G. A. Santos
  • D. L. Merrifield
Biotechnological products and process engineering


The intestinal microbiota and morphology of tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) were investigated after the application of a multi-species probiotic containing Lactobacillus reuteri, Bacillus subtilis, Enterococcus faecium and Pediococcus acidilactici (AquaStar® Growout). Tilapia (55.03 ± 0.44 g) were fed either a control diet or a probiotic diet (control diet supplemented with AquaStar® Growout at 5 g kg−1). After four and eight weeks, culture-dependent analysis showed higher levels of lactic acid bacteria (LAB), enterococci and Bacillus spp. in the mucosa and digesta of fish fed AquaStar® Growout. At week four, polymerase chain reaction denaturing gradient gel electrophoresis (PCR-DGGE) revealed a higher similarity within the probiotic fed replicates than replicates of the control group; after eight weeks, the compositional dissimilarity of the microbiome profiles between the groups was greater than the dissimilarities within each group (P < 0.05). High-throughput sequencing revealed that the probiotic treatment significantly reduced the number of operational taxonomic units and species richness in the digesta. Significantly higher proportions of reads belonging to Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria were detected in the control group whereas the probiotic-fed fish displayed a significantly higher abundance of reads assigned to the Firmicutes (which accounted for >99 % of reads). Bacillus, Cetobacterium and Mycobacterium were the dominant genera in the digesta of control fish whereas Bacillus, Enterococcus and Pediococcus were the largest constituents in probiotic-fed fish. The addition of AquaStar® Growout to tilapia diets led to increased populations of intraepithelial leucocytes, a higher absorptive surface area index and higher microvilli density in the intestine. These data suggest that AquaStar® Growout can modulate both the intestinal microbiota and morphology of tilapia.


Probiotic Intestinal microbiota High-throughput sequencing Intraepithelial leucocyte (IEL) Microscopy Tilapia 



This work was carried out as part of a PhD studentship which was jointly funded by Plymouth University and Biomin Holding GmbH (Herzogenburg, Austria). The authors would like to thank Biomin Holding GmbH for providing the materials for this research as well as their input with regard to experimental design. Finally, the authors would like to thank Matthew Emery, Dr. Michele Kiernan and Glenn Harper for their assistance in the laboratory.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Supplementary material

253_2015_6702_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (89 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 89 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Aquaculture and Fish Nutrition Research Group, School of Biological SciencesPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Biomin Holding GmbHHerzogenburgAustria

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