In Vitro Profiling of Potential Fish Probiotics, Enterococcus hirae Strains, Isolated from Jade Perch, and Safety Properties Assessed Using Whole Genome Sequencing

Probiotics Antimicrob Proteins. 2024 Mar 18. doi: 10.1007/s12602-024-10244-0. Online ahead of print.


The demands of intensified aquaculture production and escalating disease prevalence underscore the need for efficacious probiotic strategies to enhance fish health. This study focused on isolating and characterising potential probiotics from the gut microbiota of the emerging aquaculture species jade perch (Scortum barcoo). Eighty-seven lactic acid bacteria and 149 other bacteria were isolated from the digestive tract of five adult jade perch. The screening revealed that 24 Enterococcus hirae isolates inhibited the freshwater pathogens Aeromonas sobria and Streptococcus iniae. Co-incubating E. hirae with the host gut suspensions demonstrated a two- to five-fold increase in the size of growth inhibition zones compared to the results when using gut suspensions from tilapia (a non-host), indicating host-specificity. Genome analysis of the lead isolate, E. hirae R44, predicted the presence of antimicrobial compounds like enterolysin A, class II lanthipeptide, and terpenes, which underlay its antibacterial attributes. Isolate R44 exhibited desirable probiotic characteristics, including survival at pH values within the range of 3 to 12, bile tolerance, antioxidant activity, ampicillin sensitivity, and absence of transferable antimicrobial resistance genes and virulence factors commonly associated with hospital Enterococcus strains (IS16, hylEfm, and esp). This study offers a foundation for sourcing host-adapted probiotics from underexplored aquaculture species. Characterisation of novel probiotics like E. hirae R44 can expedite the development of disease mitigation strategies to support aquaculture intensification.

Keywords: Enterococcus hirae; Gut microbiota; Host-derived probiotics; Jade perch; Pathogen inhibition.