Growth performance, survival, blood chemistry, and immune gene expression of channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) fed probiotic-supplemented diets
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
School of Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences
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The channel catfish (Ictalurus punctatus) farming industry is the largest and one of the oldest aquaculture industries in the United States. Despite being an established industry, production issues stemming from disease outbreaks remain problematic for producers. Supplementing fish diets with probiotics to enhance the immune system and growth potential is one approach to mitigating disease. Although considerable laboratory data demonstrate efficacy, these results do not always translate to natural modes of disease transmission. Hence, the present work was conducted in the laboratory but incorporated flow-through water from large catfish pond production systems, allowing for natural exposure to pathogens. Two feeding trials were conducted in an 18-tank aquaria system housing two different sizes, 34.8 ± 12.5 g and 0.36 ± 0.03 g, of channel catfish. Channel catfish in the first trial were fed three experimental diets over six weeks. Commercial diets were top-coated with two selected spore-forming Bacillus spp. probiotics, Bacillus velezensis AP193 (1 × 106 CFU g−1) and BiOWiSH (3.6 × 104 CFU g−1), or a basal diet that contained no dietary additive. In the second eight-week trial, diets were top-coated with BiOWiSH at three concentrations (1.8, 3.6, and 7.3 × 104 CFU g−1), along with one basal diet (no probiotic). At the completion of these studies, growth performance, survival, hematocrit, blood chemistry, and immune expression of interleukin 1β (il1β), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (tnf-α), interleukin-8 (il8), transforming-growth factor β1 (tgf-β1), and toll-like receptor 9 (tlr9) were evaluated using qPCR. Trial results revealed no differences (p > 0.05) among treatments concerning growth, survival, or hematological parameters. For immune gene expression, interesting trends were discerned, with substantial downregulation observed inB. velezensis AP193-fed fish for il1β, tnf-α, and tlr9 expression within splenic tissue, compared to that of the basal and BiOWiSH diets (p < 0.05). However, the results were not statistically significant for anterior kidney tissue in the first trial. In the second trial, varied levels of probiotic inclusion revealed no significant impact of BiOWiSH’s products on the expression of il1β, tnf- α, il8, and tgf-β1 in both spleen and kidney tissue at any rate of probiotic inclusion (p > 0.05). Based on these findings, more research on utilizing probiotics in flow-through systems with natural infection conditions is crucial to ensure consistency from a controlled laboratory scale to real- world practices.