Turkish Journal of
Turk J Zool
(2014) 38: 79-88
Distribution of extracellular enzyme-producing bacteria in the digestive tracts of 4
brackish water sh species
, Sudipta MANDAL
, Argha KHAN
, Sanjib Kumar MANNA
, Koushik GHOSH
Aquaculture Laboratory, Department of Zoology, e University of Burdwan, Golapbag, Burdwan, West Bengal, India
Central Inland Fisheries Research Institute, Barrackpore, West Bengal, India
* Correspondence: firstname.lastname@example.org
e microora within the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of
marine and freshwater sh species has been widely inves-
tigated (Austin, 2002; Ghosh et al., 2010; Ray et al., 2010;
Askarian et al., 2011, 2012) e nutrient-rich GI tract of
sh is a favorable growth environment for these bacteria
(Kar et al., 2008). During the last decade, there has been an
improved understanding of the importance of commen-
sal intestinal microora in sh (Bairagi et al., 2002; Ghosh
et al., 2002a, 2010; Ringø et al., 2010; Khan and Ghosh,
2012; Mandal and Ghosh, 2013). e gut microora may
be categorized as either autochthonous (indigenous) or
allochthonous (transient) depending upon its ability to
colonize and adhere to the mucus layer in the digestive
tract (Ringø and Birkbeck, 1999; Ringø et al., 2003). e
bacterial ora within the GI tract of sh shows very broad
and variable enzymatic potential, and these enzymatic
masses may interfere positively in the digestive process of
sh (Ray et al., 2010). Fish gut bacterial isolates have been
demonstrated to break down chitin (Danulat and Kausch,
1984; MacDonald et al., 1986; Itoi et al., 2006), p-nitro-
phenyl-b-N-acetylglucosamine and protein (MacDonald
et al., 1986; Belchior and Vacca, 2006), cellulose (Saha and
Ray, 1998; Bairagi et al., 2002; Ghosh et al., 2002a, 2010;
Saha et al., 2006; Mondal et al., 2008), starch (Sugita et al.,
1997; Ghosh et al., 2002a, 2010), phytate (Li X et al., 2008,
Li XY et al., 2008; Roy et al., 2009; Khan et al., 2011; Khan
and Ghosh, 2012, 2013), and tannin (Mandal and Ghosh,
2013). Previous studies conducted in the carps advocated
the benecial aspects of gut-associated microbiota in the
host sh with regard to nutrition (Ghosh et al., 2002a,
2002b, 2003; Ray et al., 2010). Meanwhile, information on
the enzyme-producing gut bacteria in the brackish water
sh species is scanty (Rani et al., 2004; Sivasubramanian
et al., 2012). In this context, the search for extracellular
enzyme-producing benecial gut bacteria to be used as
probiotics for the culturable brackish water sh species
may be of interest.
Abstract: Occurrence and distribution of enzyme-producing bacteria in the proximal (PI), middle (MI), and distal (DI) segments of
the gastrointestinal tracts of 4 brackish water teleosts (Scatophagus argus, Terapon jarbua, Mystus gulio, and Etroplus suratensis) have
been investigated. Data were presented as log viable counts g
intestine (LVC). e heterotrophic bacterial population had the highest
occurrence in the DI regions of all sh species studied except M. gulio. Proteolytic and amylolytic bacteria had the highest occurrence
in the DI of M. gulio (LVC = 5.50 and 5.93, respectively), while cellulolytic and lipolytic populations exhibited highest occurrences in
the DI regions of T. jarbua (LVC = 6.33) and S. argus (LVC = 5.78), respectively. Out of the 81 bacterial isolates, the most promising 3
isolates were determined through quantitative enzyme assay and studied through 16S rRNA gene sequence analysis for identication.
Both the strains SA2.2 isolated from S. argus and TJ2.3 isolated from T. jarbua showed high similarity to dierent strains of Brevibacillus
parabrevis, while another strain, MG4.2, isolated from M. gulio, was similar to Bacillus licheniformis. e NCBI GenBank accession
numbers of the 16S rRNA gene sequences for isolates SA2.2, TJ2.3, and MG4.2 were KF377322, KF377324, and KF377323, respectively.
e present study might oer scope for further research to evaluate prospects for application of the gut-associated extracellular enzyme-
producing bacteria in brackish water aquaculture.
Key words: Brackish water sh, gut bacteria, enzyme, Brevibacillus parabrevis
Accepted: 21.08.2013 Published Online: 01.01.2014 Printed: 15.01.2014
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
erefore, the primary objective of the present study
was to detect the autochthonous extracellular enzyme-
producing bacteria from the proximal (PI), middle (MI),
and distal (DI) segments of the GI tracts of 4 culturable
brackish water teleosts. Furthermore, the study was
intended to evaluate the gut bacteria’s ability for protease,
amylase, cellulase, and lipase production, and to identify
the most promising bacterial strains by 16S rRNA gene
2. Materials and methods
2.1. Fish species examined
Four brackish water sh species, Scatophagus argus,
Mystus gulio, Terapon jarbua, and Etroplus suratensis,
were collected from 3 brackish water culture ponds of the
Fish Technological Station, Junput, West Bengal, India
(21°43.232′N, 87°48.884′E) and brought to the laboratory
in oxygen-packed plastic bags. Physicochemical
parameters of the collection ponds ranged between pH
8.1 and 8.4, with water temperature of 29.8–31.4 °C and
salinity of 16–18 ppt. Feeding habits, average live weight,
average sh length, and average gut weight of the shes
examined are presented in Table 1.
2.2. Processing of specimens
Nine specimens of each species collected from 3 ponds
(3 from each pond) were evaluated for the present study.
e shes were starved for 48 h to empty the GI tracts
(Ray et al., 2010). Aer starvation, sh were anesthetized
with 0.03% tricaine methane-sulfonate (MS222), and the
ventral surface of each sh was thoroughly scrubbed with
1% iodine solution for surface decontamination (Trust
and Sparrow, 1974). e shes were dissected aseptically
within a laminar airow and their alimentary tracts
were removed. Gut samples were processed for isolation
of adherent (autochthonous) bacteria as described by
Ringø (1993), with minor modication. e GI tracts
were divided into proximal (PI), middle (MI), and distal
(DI) segments, cut into pieces, and ushed carefully 3
times with 0.9% sterile saline solution using an injection
syringe in order to remove nonadherent (allochthonous)
microora, according to Ghosh et al. (2010). Gut segments
from the 3 specimens of a species collected from the same
pond were pooled together region-wise for each replicate,
and thus there were 3 replicates for each gut segment from
each sh species. e gut segments were homogenized
with 10 parts of sterilized, prechilled 0.9% NaCl solution,
as described elsewhere (Das and Tripathi, 1991). Pooled
samples were used to avoid erroneous conclusions due
to individual variations in gut microora, as described
elsewhere (Ghosh et al., 2010).
2.3. Microbial culture
Homogenized samples of each gut segment were used
separately aer appropriate serial (1:10) dilutions (Beveridge
et al., 1991). Diluted samples (0.1 mL) were poured
aseptically within a laminar airow onto sterilized tryptone
soy agar (TSA, HiMedia, India) plates to determine the
culturable heterotrophic autochthonous aerobic/facultative
anaerobic microbial population. For determination of
protease-, cellulase-, amylase-, and lipase-producing
bacterial populations, diluted samples (0.1 mL) were poured
onto peptone gelatin agar (PG), carboxymethylcellulose
agar (CMC), starch agar (SA), and tributyrin agar (TA)
plates, respectively. e culture plates were incubated at
30 °C for 48 h. e colony-forming units (CFUs) per unit
sample volume of gut homogenate were determined by
multiplying the number of colonies formed on each plate by
the reciprocal dilution (Rahmatullah and Beveridge, 1993),
and the data were presented as log viable counts g
(LVC). Colonies with apparently dierent morphological
appearances (such as color, conguration, surface, margin,
and opacity) from a single plate were streaked separately on
respective plates to obtain pure cultures.
Table 1. Food habits, average live weight, average sh length (standard length), and average gut weight of the shes examined.
Fish species Feeding habit
Omnivorous; feeds on shes, insects, algae,
and sand-dwelling invertebrates
53.87 ± 4.92 13.76 ± 0.56 3.02 ± 0.2
mnivorous; feeds on worms, crustaceans,
insects, and plant matter
46.5 ± 3.56 14.2 ± 0.81 1.7 ± 0.14
Mystus gulio Carnivorous 24.2 ± 1.94 11.92 ± 0.45 1.22 ± 0.17
Omnivorous; feeds on lamentous algae, plant
material, and insects
33.46 ± 1.4 11.99 ± 0.28 0.53 ± 0.03
Results are mean ± SD of the 3 observations.
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
2.4. Screening of isolates by qualitative assay for
Out of the 81 extracellular enzyme-producing isolates
from the sh species examined, 21 isolates were primarily
selected (on the basis of growth potential at 30 °C) for
qualitative enzyme assay. For extracellular amylase
production, isolates were inoculated on SA plates and
incubated at 30 °C for 48 h. e culture plates were ooded
with 1% Lugol’s iodine solution to identify amylase activity
by the formation of a transparent zone (halo) surrounding
the colony (Jacob and Gerstein, 1960). Similarly, for
extracellular protease, the isolates inoculated on PG plates
were incubated at 30 °C for 48 h; the appearance of a
halo aer ooding the plates with 15% HgCl
the presence of proteolytic activity (Jacob and Gerstein,
1960). For determination of cellulase production, isolates
grown on CMC plates at 30 °C for 48 h were ooded
with Congo red dye prepared with 0.7% agarose (Teather
and Wood, 1982). Congo red selectively binds with
unhydrolyzed CMC. Appearance of a halo due to the
presence of hydrolyzed CMC surrounding the bacterial
colony indicated cellulase production in the medium.
Lipase producers showed a halo surrounding their colony
in 1% tributyrin plates (Sangiliyandi and Gunasekaran,
1996). ere were 3 replicates for each experimental set.
Qualitative extracellular enzyme activity was assessed
based on the measurement of the halo zone (diameter in
mm) around the colony and presented as scores, as follows:
0 (0–5 mm), 1 (low, 6–10 mm), 2 (moderate, 11–15 mm), 3
(good, 16–20 mm), 4 (high, 21–25 mm), and 5 (very high,
2.5. Quantitative enzyme assay
On the basis of the qualitative assay, 10 extracellular
enzyme-producing isolates were selected for quantitative
assay using broth culture to screen the promising isolates.
Quantitative assay for the production of amylase, cellulase,
protease, and lipase were performed following the methods
described by Bernfeld (1955), Denison and Koehn (1977),
Walter (1984), and Bier (1955), respectively. A detailed
description for measurement of extracellular enzyme
production and quantitative enzyme assay has been
mentioned elsewhere (Bairagi et al., 2002). Quantitative
enzyme activities were expressed as units (U).
2.6. Identication of isolates by 16S rRNA gene sequence
e most promising 3 of the extracellular enzyme-
producing isolates were investigated by means of their
quantitative enzyme assays (amylase, cellulase, protease,
and lipase) in addition to their 16S rRNA partial gene
sequence analysis for identication. e gene encoding
16S rRNA was amplied from the isolates by polymerase
chain reaction (PCR) using universal primers 27f
(5´-AGAGTTTGATCCTGGCTCAG-3´) and 1492r
(5´-GGTTACCTTGTTACGACTT-3´). e PCR
reactions were performed using PCR mix containing 200
µM of deoxynucleotides (dNTPs), 0.2 µM of each primer,
2.5 mM MgCl
, 1X PCR buer, and 0.2 U of Taq DNA
polymerase (Invitrogen). e template DNA was obtained
by extracting genomic DNA using the GenElute Bacterial
Genomic DNA Kit (Sigma-Aldrich) from a fresh colony
grown on a nutrient agar slant. e following cycle was
used for PCR reaction: initial denaturation at 95 °C for 3
min, followed by 35 cycles at 95 °C for 1 min, annealing at
55 °C for 1 min, and extension at 72 °C for 2 min, and a nal
extension at 72 °C for 3 min (Lane, 1991). PCR products
were sent to a commercial house for Sanger sequencing
using an automated DNA sequencer (Applied Biosystems
Ltd.). Sequenced data were aligned and analyzed for nding
the closest homolog of the microbes using a combination
of NCBI GenBank and RDP databases. e phylogenetic
tree was constructed incorporating 16S rRNA partial
gene sequences of isolates SA2.2, TJ2.3, and MG4.2 and
their phylogenetically closest type strains using MEGA
5.2 soware following the minimum evolution method.
Partial sequences of 16S rRNA from the 3 selected isolates
were deposited in the NCBI GenBank database to obtain
2.7. Media composition
TSA medium contained (g L
): pancreatic digest of casein,
15; papaic digest of soybean meal, 5; NaCl, 5; agar, 15; pH of
7.5. PG medium contained (g L
): beef extract, 3; peptone,
5; gelatin, 4; agar, 20; pH of 7.5. CMC medium contained
): beef extract, 5; peptone, 5; NaCl, 5; carboxymeth-
ylcellulose, 2; agar, 20; pH of 7.5. SA medium contained (g
): beef extract, 5; peptone, 5; NaCl, 5; starch (soluble), 2;
agar, 20; pH of 7. TA medium contained (g L
agar, 10; peptone, 5; agar, 15; pH of 7.5.
2.8. Statistical analysis
Data pertaining to specic extracellular enzyme production
by the selected isolates were subjected to analysis of
variance (ANOVA) followed by Tukey’s test following Zar
(1974) using SPSS 10 (Kinear and Gray, 2000).
Heterotrophic as well as protease-, cellulase-, amylase-,
and lipase-producing bacterial populations present in
the PI, MI, and DI segments of the GI tracts of all the
sh species examined are presented in Table 2. Analysis
of the bacterial populations in the GI tracts of 4 brackish
water sh revealed that the heterotrophic population
on TSA plates diered among dierent sh species as
well as among dierent regions of the gut. e bacterial
population on TSA plate was highest in the DI region of
M. gulio (LVC = 7.49 g
intestine), followed by T. jarbua
(LVC = 7.48 g
intestine), while it was lowest in the PI
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
region of M. gulio (LVC = 6.38 g
intestine). e highest
amylolytic bacterial population was detected in the DI
region of M. gulio (LVC = 5.93 g
intestine), followed by
S. argus (LVC = 5.73 g
intestine); it was lowest in the PI
region of E. suratensis (LVC = 4.87 g
producing bacteria showed the highest concentration
in the DI region of T. jarbua (LVC = 6.33 g
followed by S. argus (LVC = 6.06 g
intestine), while it
was lowest in the PI region of E. suratensis (LVC = 4.83
intestine). Proteolytic bacterial population showed the
highest concentration in the DI region of M. gulio (LVC =
intestine), followed by T. jarbua (LVC = 5.41 g
intestine); the lowest concentration was in the PI region
of S. argus (LVC = 4.69 g
intestine). Lipolytic bacteria
rates were highest in the DI region of S. argus (LVC =
intestine), followed by the MI region of the same
species (LVC = 5.76 g
intestine). Altogether, 21 enzyme-
producing bacterial isolates were primarily selected from
dierent sh species, and extracellular enzyme production
by the bacterial isolates was assayed qualitatively.
Qualitative extracellular enzyme activities were presented
as scores (Table 3), maximum and minimum scores being
18 and 2, respectively. Based on the qualitative assay, 10
bacterial isolates were selected for the quantitative enzyme
assay. Results of the quantitative enzyme assay revealed
signicant dierences in the enzyme activities among
dierent bacterial isolates (Table 4). Maximum amylase
and cellulase activities were recorded in SA2.2 isolated
from the DI of S. argus (44.03 ± 0.43 U and 13.12 ± 0.23 U,
respectively). Protease activity was highest in TJ2.3 isolated
from the DI of T. jarbua (26.89 ± 0.28 U), while the best
lipase activity was noticed in MG4.2 isolated from the DI
of M. gulio (11.1 ± 0.31 U). Considering all 4 enzymatic
activities, isolates SA2.2, TJ2.3, and MG4.2 were found
to have the most potential among the 10 selected isolates.
Based on the nucleotide homology and phylogenetic
analysis of the 16S rRNA gene sequences, isolates SA2.2
and TJ2.3 were both identied as Brevibacillus parabrevis
(GenBank Accession Nos. KF377322 and KF377324). e
isolate SA2.2 showed 100% similarity with B. parabrevis
HDYM-18 (EF428244), while isolate TJ2.3 showed 99%
similarity with B. parabrevis M3 (AB215101). us,
SA2.2 and TJ2.3 were 2 dierent strains of B. parabrevis.
e isolate MG4.2 was identied as Bacillus licheniformis
Table 2. Log viable counts (LVC) of autochthonous adherent bacteria isolated from the proximal (PI), middle (MI), and distal (DI)
segments of the GI tracts of the sh species examined.
Bacterial count in
PI 6.93 4.92 5.06 4.69 5.58
MI 7.11 5.61 5.84 4.99 5.76
DI 7.29 5.73 6.06 5.12 5.78
PI 6.98 5.33 5.18 4.85 5.09
MI 7.28 5.50 5.92 5.20 5.43
DI 7.48 5.62 6.33 5.41 5.55
PI 6.38 5.61 5.69 5.05 5.31
MI 7.09 5.66 5.29 5.27 5.35
DI 7.49 5.93 4.93 5.50 5.50
PI 6.78 4.87 4.83 4.74 4.96
MI 6.92 4.93 4.85 4.89 5.08
DI 7.25 4.94 4.99 5.08 5.23
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
(GenBank Accession No. KF377323). It showed 100%
similarity with B. licheniformis GLU 113 (FN678352). It
appeared from the phylogenetic tree that strains SA2.2
and TJ2.3 were closest to the B. parabrevis type strain
(AB112714) and were grouped together, whereas MG4.2
was distantly placed with B. licheniformis (Figure).
Diverse microbial communities in the GI tracts of
freshwater or marine carnivorous, herbivorous, and
omnivorous sh species have been reported abundantly
(for review, see Ray et al., 2012). However, the
endosymbiotic community among the brackish water
sh species has remained poorly investigated (Esakkiraj
et al., 2009). Digestive tracts of endotherms are colonized
mainly by obligate anaerobes (Finegold et al., 1983),
while the predominant bacterial genera isolated from
most sh guts have been aerobes or facultative anaerobes
(Trust and Sparrow, 1974; Horsley, 1977; Sakata, 1990;
Bairagi et al., 2002; Ghosh et al., 2002a). In the present
investigation, aerobic/facultative anaerobic extracellular
enzyme-producing bacterial symbionts were detected in
the GI tracts of 4 brackish water sh species. As the sh
were starved for 48 h and their GI tracts were thoroughly
Table 3. Qualitative extracellular enzyme activity of some bacterial strains isolated from the GI tracts of the sh species examined.
Enzyme activities were presented as scores as described in the text.
Enzyme activity (scores)*
Isolated from Amylase
TJ3.1 PI 0 2 0 0 02
TJ1.2 MI 2 2 3 2 09
TJ1.1 DI 4 3 3 2 12
TJ2.3 DI 5 4 5 4 18
TJ4.1 DI 4 3 4 4 15
SA3.1 PI 0 4 3 2 09
SA1.1 MI 4 3 3 4 14
SA3.2 MI 0 2 3 3 08
SA2.2 DI 5 4 5 3 17
SA1.2 DI 5 3 3 2 13
SA2.1 DI 3 2 3 2 10
SA4.3 DI 0 4 3 2 09
MG3.1 PI 0 2 0 4 06
MG4.1 MI 4 2 4 3 13
MG1.1 MI 0 3 4 2 09
MG4.2 DI 5 3 5 5 18
MG1.2 DI 4 2 3 2 11
ES3.1 PI 0 2 4 2 08
ES1.2 MI 0 2 4 0 06
ES2.1 DI 3 3 4 0 10
ES4.3 DI 2 2 4 0 08
*: With pure culture of bacterial isolates.
On starch (SA) plate;
on carboxymethylcellulose (CMC) plate;
on gelatin-peptone (GP) plate;
on tributyrin-agar (TA) plate.
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
Table 4. Prole of specic enzyme activities (mean ± SE) in the selected isolates from the GI tracts of the sh species
Enzyme activity (U)
MG4.1 26.82 ± 0.34
7.42 ± 0.24
20.31 ± 0.28
8.20 ± 0.27
SA2.2 44.03 ± 0.43
13.12 ± 0.23
20.95 ± 0.20
8.45 ± 0.51
TJ2.3 42.25 ± 0.70
11.76 ± 0.16
26.89 ± 0.28
8.79 ± 0.38
TJ4.1 34.19 ± 0.51
12.59 ± 0.16
22.87 ± 0.20
7.56 ± 0.52
MG4.2 36.98 ± 0.72
10.03 ± 0.13
11.78 ± 0.12
11.1 ± 0.31
TJ1.1 30.22 ± 0.69
10.80 ± 0.38
12.31 ± 0.32
5.66 ± 0.60
SA1.1 22.13 ± 0.08
9.95 ± 0.32
12.43 ± 0.27
7.78 ± 0.25
SA1.2 31.98 ± 0.16
9.1 ± 0.13
13.43 ± 0.38
5.82 ± 0.27
MG1.2 22.43 ± 0.12
9.61 ± 0.62
18.17 ± 0.43
8.92 ± 0.22
ES2.1 17.43 ± 0.27
19.91 ± 0.33
Data are means ± SE of 3 determinations. Values with the same superscripts in the same vertical column are not
signicantly dierent (P < 0.05).
1 unit (U) = 1 µg maltose liberated mL
of enzyme-extract min
: 1 unit (U) = 1 µg tyrosine liberated mL
of enzyme-extract min
: 1 unit (U) = 1 µg glucose liberated mL
of enzyme-extract min
: 1 unit (U) = 1 µmol fatty acid liberated mL
of enzyme-extract min
Bacillus subtilis JQ424889
Bacillus mojavensis AB021191
Bacillus amyloliquefaciens AB325583
Bacillus atrophaeus AB363731
Bacillus licheniformis MG4.2 KF377323
Bacillus aerius AJ831843
Brevibacillus brevis AB101593
Brevibacillus choshinensis AB112713
Brevibacillus agri AB112716
Brevibacillus parabrevis AB112714
Brevibacillus parabrevis SA2.2 KF377322
Brevibacillus parabrevis TJ2.3 KF377324
Alicyclobacillus pohliae AJ564766
Figure. e phylogenetic tree showing the relationship among Brevibacillus parabrevis
strains SA2.2 and TJ2.3, Bacillus licheniformis MG4.2, and their phylogenetically
closest type strains. e GenBank accession numbers of the type strains and studied
strains are shown following species names. Distance matrix was calculated by Kimura’s
2-parameter model. e scale bar indicates 0.02 substitutions per nucleotide position.
Alicyclobacillus pohliae AJ564766 served as an out-group.
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
washed with sterile, chilled 0.9% saline prior to isolation
of microora, it may be suggested that the microorganisms
isolated in the present study belong to the autochthonous
adherent microora, as suggested elsewhere (Ghosh et
al., 2010). e rate of microora present within the GI
tract of sh is much higher than that of the surrounding
water, indicating that the GI tract of sh provides favorable
ecological niches for these microorganisms (Mondal et
al., 2008). However, isolation and identication alone
might not give a realistic depiction of the gut microora
in dierent regions of the GI tract with an appraisal of
their likely function (Khan and Ghosh, 2012). erefore, it
was considered legitimate in the present study to quantify
heterotrophic bacteria along with specic extracellular
enzyme-producing bacteria in dierent regions of
the GI tracts in the sh species studied, as the major
endeavor in the present study was to gather information
on extracellular enzyme-producing gut bacteria in some
brackish water shes.
In the present study, gut bacteria were isolated by
conventional culture-based methods. It is generally argued
that culture-dependent techniques are time-consuming,
lack accuracy (Ase et al., 2003), and do not represent a
correct picture of the bacterial diversity in the sh gut,
even if several dierent media are used (Ray et al., 2010).
However, the use of a culture-based technique employing
a specic substrate containing selective media is justiable,
as the major aim of the present study was to detect dierent
extracellular enzyme-producing gut bacteria. Besides, in
the present study, conventional methods in combination
with 16S rRNA analysis have been employed to identify
the potent enzyme-producing gut isolates, as suggested
elsewhere (Ghosh et al., 2010; Mondal et al., 2010; Ray et
Proper information regarding the relative importance
of exogenous enzymes produced by the endosymbionts
of the GI tract and digestive enzymes produced by the
host is essential for understanding the contribution
of endosymbionts in digestion (Clements, 1997). In
the present investigation, all the sh species examined
exhibited considerable amylolytic, proteolytic, cellulolytic,
and lipolytic bacterial populations (Table 2). is can be
correlated with their feeding habits. Being omnivore sh
species, the occurrence of protease-, amylase-, cellulase-,
and lipase-producing bacterial populations in the digestive
tracts of S. argus, T. jarbua, and E. suratensis is justied.
e occurrence of proteolytic, cellulolytic, and amylolytic
bacteria in the gut has been suggested as an omnivorous
feeding aptitude of the sh by Creach (1963) and Ghosh
et al. (2002a, 2010). Previously, Bairagi et al. (2002)
failed to detect cellulolytic bacteria in the GI tracts of
carnivorous catsh and murrels; however, the results of the
present investigation showed the presence of cellulolytic
bacteria in carnivorous M. gulio. Stickney and Shumway
(1974) opined that omnivores and carnivores might
pick up cellulolytic ora from invertebrates that harbor
the bacteria, which might explain the presence of the
cellulolytic bacteria within the GI tract of M. gulio in the
present study. e present study indicated that cellulolytic
bacteria exist in the GI tracts of all the brackish water
sh species studied, which supports the hypothesis that
bacteria might contribute to the degradation of cellulose
in sh (Ray et al., 2010). e presence of a huge population
of cellulolytic bacteria and their vital role in extracellular
cellulase production in sh has been documented in
several investigations (Das and Tripathi, 1991; Saha and
Ray, 1998; Bairagi et al., 2002; Saha et al., 2006; Mondal
et al., 2008; Mondal et al., 2010). In their previous study
with carp, Shcherbina and Kazlawlene (1971) suggested
that cellulose absorption takes place in the DI, which may
indicate the presence of microbial cellulase in this region.
Our observation is in accordance with this hypothesis as
most cellulase-producing bacteria were recorded in the DI
of all sh species studied except in M. gulio, which was
supposed to be a carnivorous sh. Furthermore, it may be
mentioned that except for cellulolytic bacteria in M. gulio,
the heterotrophic microbial population was observed to be
highest in the DI regions of all the sh species studied when
compared to the PI and MI regions, which is in harmony
with previous reports (Mondal et al., 2008; Ghosh et al.,
2010; Ray et al., 2010).
e assay of extracellular enzyme production showed
the highest values for amylase and cellulase production in
SA2.2 isolated from the DI of S. argus. However, protease
and lipase productions were highest in TJ2.3 isolated
from the DI of T. jarbua and MG4.2 isolated from DI
of M. gulio, respectively. Qualitative and quantitative
determination of extracellular enzyme production
exhibited poor performance by the isolates from E.
suratensis when compared with the isolates from the other
shes studied. In the present study, the 2 ecient enzyme-
producing strains (SA2.2 and TJ2.3) were established
through quantitative enzyme assay and identied as
Brevibacillus parabrevis based on 16S rRNA sequence
analysis. Although both promising isolates belonged to B.
parabrevis, the strain SA2.2 isolated from DI of S. argus
showed the most similarity to B. parabrevis HDYM-18
(EF428244) (Ping and Ge, 2007; unpublished data), while
strain TJ2.3 isolated from DI of T. jarbua showed closeness
to B. parabrevis M3 (AB215101) (Suzuki et al., 2005;
unpublished data). Another strain, MG4.2, isolated from
the DI of M. gulio, showed 16S rRNA sequence similarity
to B. licheniformis GLU 113 (FN678352) (Shariati, 2010;
unpublished data). Diverse strains of extracellular enzyme-
producing bacteria have been identied from the GI tracts
of freshwater and marine shes (for review, see Ray et
DAS et al. / Turk J Zool
al., 2012). e occurrence of B. licheniformis within the
gut of freshwater shes has been reported previously by
several authors (Mondal et al., 2010; Dan and Ray, 2013).
However, to the authors’ knowledge, extracellular enzyme-
producing Brevibacillus sp. has not been reported from
sh gut previously. In addition, reports on gut-inhabiting
extracellular enzyme-producing bacteria from brackish
water sh species are scanty (De et al., 2012).
An extensive range of enzymes produced by GI bacteria
could be a contributing source of digestive enzymes in
sh (Ray et al., 2012). Characterization of the microbial
populations in the intestinal microenvironment of sh, and
understanding of the physiological interactions between the
indigenous microora and the host, might have important
implications (Silva et al., 2005). Enzymes produced by
intestinal sh microora might have a signicant role in
digestion, mainly for substrates such as cellulose, which
few animals can digest, and also for other substrates
(Smith, 1989). Luczkovich and Stellwag (1993) opined that
the GI microora of pinsh (Lagodon rhomboides) might
contribute to the breakdown of plant material. Kar et al.
(2008) indicated that the enzyme-producing gut bacteria
are able to utilize carbohydrates such as mannose, xylose,
ranose, cellobiose, and cellulose. ese substances are
mainly found in plant foodstus. erefore, cellulase and
amylase activities by the gut bacteria might indicate their
ability to aid in the digestion of plant foodstus. e use
of benecial bacteria as probiotics has a long tradition in
animal husbandry (Stavric and Kornegay, 1995). Benecial
bacteria could be introduced in commercial aquaculture
by incorporating them into formulated sh diets, or in the
form of bacteria biolm to achieve colonization in the GI
tract to a higher degree (Bairagi et al., 2002, 2004; Ghosh
et al., 2002b, 2003, 2004a, 2004b; Ramachandran et al.,
2005; Ramachandran and Ray, 2007; Askarian et al., 2011;
Saha and Ray, 2011). It has been suggested that benecial
gut bacteria are continuously competing with pathogens
through competitive exclusion (Ray et al., 2012). ese
topics could be addressed in upcoming studies. Whether
the gut bacteria can contribute to the host’s nutrition has
not been elucidated in the present study. Assessment of
the role of the enzyme-producing gut bacteria in brackish
water sh culture should therefore be given high priority
in future studies.
e authors are grateful to the Head of the Department
of Zoology, e University of Burdwan, West Bengal,
India; the Department of Science and Technology (FIST
Programme), New Delhi, India; and the University Grants
Commission (Special Assistance Programme), New
Delhi, India, for providing research facilities and nancial
support. e authors are obliged to Nilanjan Maitra for
rendering help in the analyses of sequenced data.
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