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Comparison of bacterial diversity and distribution on the gills of Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.): an evaluation of sampling techniques

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-20, 20:16 authored by Slinger, J, Mark AdamsMark Adams, Wynne, JW


Assess bacterial diversity and richness in mucus samples from the gills of Atlantic salmon in comparison to preserved or fixed gill filament tissues. Ascertain whether bacterial diversity and richness are homogeneous upon different arches of the gill basket.

Methods and Results

Bacterial communities contained within gill mucus were profiled using 16S rRNA gene sequencing. No significant difference in taxa richness, alpha (P > 0·05) or beta diversity indices (P > 0·05) were found between the bacterial communities of RNAlater preserved gill tissues and swab‐bound mucus. A trend of lower richness and diversity indices were observed in bacterial communities from posterior hemibranchs.


Non‐lethal swab sampling of gill mucus provides a robust representation of bacterial communities externally upon the gills. Bacterial communities from the fourth arch appeared to be the least representative overall.

Significance and Impact of the Study

The external mucosal barriers of teleost fish (e.g. gill surface) play a vital role as a primary defence line against infection. While research effort on the role of microbial communities on health and immunity of aquaculture species continues, the collection and sampling processes to obtain these data require evaluation so methodologies are consistently applied across future studies that aim to evaluate the composition of branchial microbiomes.


Publication title

Journal of Applied Microbiology








Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Blackwell Publishing Ltd

Place of publication

9600 Garsington Rd, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox4 2Dg

Rights statement

© 2020 The Society for Applied Microbiology

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Aquaculture fin fish (excl. tuna)

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