Characterization of culturable bacterial flora in yolk-sac larvae of Atlantic halibut (Hippoglossus hippoglossus L.) with "gaping jaws" syndrome
One of the main problems facing Atlantic halibut hatcheries is the high mortality in the early stages of larval development. Several factors could be involved, for example: water quality, diseases or abnormalities, such as deformities occurring in the yolk sac larvae prior to exogenous feeding. The aim of this study was to identify differences in bacterial flora associated with yolk sac larvae with oral deformity. We also aimed to establish whether there is any relationship between bacterial strains and the "gaping jaws" syndrome. During our study, 74 bacterial isolates were obtained using three different nutrient media: Marine Agar, R2A and TCBS. Some of these bacteria were characterized using Polymerase Chain Reaction-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (PCR-RFLP) and 16S rRNA sequencing. The immune response in larvae exhibiting the "gaping jaws" condition was measured by real time PCR. Our results showed significant differences in bacterial flora between normal and gaping larvae. The gaping yolk sac larvae were predominantly colonized by members of the families Vibrionaceae and Flavobacteriaceae. Bacteria belonging to the Bacillus and Pseudoalteromonas genera were also present but less frequent. It was not possible to associate a type or group of bacteria directly related to "gaping". Strikingly, larvae with gaping jaws had an increase in the expression of two immune related genes, like hepcidin and chemokine (MIP-1B). These results indicate activation of the immune response in larvae with "gaping jaws" syndrome and this response could be related to bacteria isolated from gaping condition.