Bacteria may help farmed lobsters ward off infection

August 19th, 2008 - 1:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Aug 19 (IANS) A beneficial bacteria, which wild rock lobster larvae host naturally, could help their farmed cousins ward off infections and remove a large barrier to commercial production. Microbial ecologist Lone Høj and her colleagues at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS) has shown that the farmed variants of this lobster lacks the beneficial bacteria, because of lack of exposure to complex ocean ecology.

Following several successful field trips to capture tiny, translucent rock lobster larvae from the Coral Sea, Lone Høj has been able to compare natural microbial communities that live on the wild larvae with the microbes present in experimental farmed animals.

She has found that wild rock lobster larvae do not have the filamentous bacteria found on farmed animals that compromise their health.

Instead, they have small quantities of a bacteria that appear to be good candidates as probiotics, helping the young lobsters grow rather than inducing disease.

“Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that you introduce to the aquaculture system to gain an advantage,” Høj said. “For example, they might compete with or inhibit the growth of pathogens and thereby promote the growth and survival of the aquaculture target species.”

While animal industries often depend upon antibiotics, Høj and her colleagues at the rock lobster aquaculture team are hoping to increase the sustainability of lobster farming by using probiotics instead.

These findings were presented on Monday at the 12th International Society for Microbial Ecology paper at the Cairns Convention Centre.

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