Examination of a culturable microbial population from the gastrointestinal tract of the wood-eating loricariid catfish Panaque nigrolineatus

Joy Watts, R. McDonald, R. Daniel, H. Schreier

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Fish play a critical role in nutrient cycling and organic matter flow in aquatic environments. However, little is known about the microbial diversity within the gastrointestinal tracts that may be essential in these degradation activities. Panaque nigrolineatus is a loricariid catfish found in the Neotropics that have a rare dietary strategy of consuming large amounts of woody material in its natural environment. As a consequence, the gastrointestinal (GI) tract of P. nigrolineatus is continually exposed to high levels of cellulose and other recalcitrant wood compounds and is, therefore, an attractive, uncharacterized system to study microbial community diversity. Our previous 16S rRNA gene surveys demonstrated that the GI tract microbial community includes phylotypes having the capacity to degrade cellulose and fix molecular nitrogen. In the present study we verify the presence of a resident microbial community by fluorescence microscopy and focus on the cellulose-degrading members by culture-based and 13C-labeled cellulose DNA stable-isotope probing (SIP) approaches. Analysis of GI tract communities generated from anaerobic microcrystalline cellulose enrichment cultures by 16S rRNA gene analysis revealed phylotypes sharing high sequence similarity to known cellulolytic bacteria including Clostridium, Cellulomonas, Bacteroides, Eubacterium and Aeromonas spp. Related bacteria were identified in the SIP community, which also included nitrogen-fixing Azospirillum spp. Our ability to enrich for specialized cellulose-degrading communities suggests that the P. nigrolineatus GI tract provides a favorable environment for this activity and these communities may be involved in providing assimilable carbon under challenging dietary conditions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)641-656
Number of pages16
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2013


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