Analysis of potential risks from the bacterial communities associated with air-contact surfaces from tilapia (Oreochromis niloticus) fish farming

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Tilapia farming is a promising growing sector in aquaculture. Yet, there are limited studies on microbiological risks associated to tilapia farms. The aim of the present study was to analyse the bacterial communities from solid surfaces in contact with air in a tilapia farm in order to evaluate the presence of bacteria potentially toxinogenic or pathogenic to humans or animals. Samples from a local tilapia farm (tank wall, aerator, water outlets, sink and floor) were analyzed by high throughput sequencing technology. Sequences were assigned to operational taxonomic units (OTUs). Proteobacteria was the main phylum represented in most samples (except for one). Cyanobacteria were a relevant phylum in the inner wall from the fattening tank and the wet floor by the pre-fattening tank. Bacteroidetes were the second phylum in relative abundance for samples from the larval rearing tank and the pre-fattening tank and one sample from the fattening tank. Fusobacteria showed highest relative abundances in samples from the larval rearing tank and pre-fattening tank. Other phyla (Verrucomicrobia, Actinobacteria, Firmicutes, Planktomycetes, Acidobacteria, Chloroflexi, Chlorobi, Gemmatiomonadetes or Fibrobacters) had lower relative abundances. A large fraction of the reads (ranging from 43.67% to 72.25%) were assigned to uncultured bacteria. Genus Acinetobacter (mainly A. calcoaceticus/baumanni) was the predominant OTU in the aerator of the fattening tank and also in the nearby sink on the floor. The genera Cetobacterium and Bacteroides showed highest relative abundances in the samples from the larval rearing tank and the pre-fattening tank. Genera including fish pathogens (Fusobacterium, Aeromonas) were only detected at low relative abundances. Potential human pathogens other than Acinetobacter were either not detected or had very low relative abundances (< 0.01%). The results of the study suggest that the main risk factors to be monitored in tilapia farm are putative human pathogenic Acinetobacter and potential cyanotoxin-producing cyanobacteria.

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