MEPS 558:167-180 (2016)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11789

Bacteria associated with lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) exhibit antibacterial activity against known fish pathogens

Julia L. Stevens1,2, Ronneshia L. Jackson1, Julie B. Olson1,*

1The University of Alabama, Department of Biological Sciences, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487, USA 2Present addresses: North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, Genomics and Microbiology Lab, Raleigh, 27601 North Carolina, USA, and North Carolina State University, Department of Applied Ecology, Raleigh, 27695 North Carolina, USA
*Corresponding author:

ABSTRACT: Fish support microbial communities that serve a variety of functions, including disease resistance. In addition to fish microbiota acting as a defense against disease, fish mucus often contains antimicrobial compounds. This study investigated the antibacterial activity of bacteria isolated from external surfaces of native (e.g. Indo-Pacific) and invasive (e.g. Western Atlantic, Caribbean) lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) and native Caribbean squirrelfish Holocentrus adscensionis against 6 known fish pathogens (Vibrio spp., Photobacterium damselae), and evaluated the antibacterial activity of lionfish mucus against these pathogens and lionfish- and squirrelfish-associated bacteria. The 16S rRNA gene was sequenced for bacteria exhibiting pathogen inhibition, providing information on their taxonomic affiliations. Antibacterial metabolites were produced by 36.2% (54 of 149) of lionfish-derived bacterial cultures, with similar percentages of producing organisms recovered from the native and invaded ranges. Only 1 of 13 squirrelfish isolates inhibited pathogens. Interestingly, similar genera exhibiting antibacterial activity were detected in both ranges (e.g. Alteromonas, Pseudoalteromonas, Photobacterium), even though previous work suggested that external bacterial communities were not vertically transmitted. Antibacterial activity was detected after 24 h of growth, and the amount of inhibition did not increase over a 14 d incubation period. Conversely, organic and aqueous mucus extracts from lionfish were not active against the 6 pathogens or against bacteria isolated from lionfish and squirrelfish. These findings indicate that the external bacterial communities of lionfish may provide disease resistance to their hosts, a trait that would enhance the ability of lionfish to successfully establish as an invasive species.


KEY WORDS: Lionfish · Pterois volitans/miles complex · Invasive · Disease resistance · Fish pathogens · Bacterial isolates


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Cite this article as: Stevens JL, Jackson RL, Olson JB (2016) Bacteria associated with lionfish (Pterois volitans/miles complex) exhibit antibacterial activity against known fish pathogens. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 558:167-180. https://doi.org/10.3354/meps11789

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