The use of probiotic bacteria to control bacterial infection in farmed fish is of clear practical interest. The aims of this study were to isolate and select a probiotic Bacillus sp. and to evaluate the effects of its supplementation on the growth and disease resistance of hybrid catfish. Bacillus siamensis strain B44v, selectively isolated from Thai pickled vegetables (Phak-dong), displayed a high potential as a probiotic in catfish culture. This bacterium produced a bacteriocin-like substance and exhibited a broad-spectrum antibacterial activity inhibiting both Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria, especially the fish pathogens Aeromonas hydrophila and Streptococcus agalactiae. The susceptibility to all 14 antibiotics tested implies its less possibility to be the antibiotic-resistant bacterium. Bacillus siamensis strain B44v possessed interesting adhesion properties, as shown by its high percentages of hydrophobicity (64.8%), auto-agglutination (73.8%), co-aggregation (67.2% with A. hydrophila FW52 and 63.5% with S. agalactiae F3S), and mucin binding (88.7%). The strain B44v survived simulated gastrointestinal conditions and produced protease and cellulase enzymes. Hybrid catfish (C. macrocephalus × C. gariepinus) were employed in the feed-trial experiments. Fish fed diet containing strain B44v (107 CFU/g feed) displayed not only no mortality but also growth improvement. At the end of the feed trial, fish were challenged by an intraperitoneal injection of Aeromonas hydrophila FW52. The Bacillus siamensis strain B44v fed fish survived (75.0%; p < 0.05) better than the controls (36.7%; p < 0.05) after a two week challenge. These collective results present for the first time the potential of Bacillus siamensis strain B44v for use as a bacterial probiotic in aquaculture.
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