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Biology | Life Sciences


Barbara May, Biology


Although commonly known for their ability to cause deadly infectious diseases, there are populations of bacteria (identified as normal flora) that symbiotically live on and amongst larger host organisms and positively impact survival of the host. In previous research, culturing methods suggest that freshwater fish (i.e. bluegill and northern pike) maintain a normal flora population and that this flora aids in protection and the health of the fish. Our study used Ion torrent PGM sequencing to identify a larger, more complete population of normal flora in 2 different lake samples from three different species of fish. Identifying and comparing the normal flora populations in the lakes and different fish species would provide us with an better understanding of a fish’s interactions with normal bacterial flora. Data presented here suggests that fish mucus specializes its flora as compared to the aquatic environment in which they live. The diversity of the aquatic samples is significantly higher as compared to all fish samples. Fish tend to harbor particular phyla including types of Proteobacteria. Upon comparison of mucus flora between crappie and bluegill (regardless of lake), data suggests significant differences in flora. Some of this difference may be accounted for in the aquatic environment from which they were sampled. However, even within a single aquatic environment, there are some significant differences between bacterial floras. This suggests that certain fish may specialize their flora even while in the same environment.

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