Bacterial associations with salmonid eggs
Rainbow trout eggs Salmo gairdneri, Richardson, were incubated under a range of different environmental conditions. Recovery of bacteria from egg surfaces revealed that increased water temperature, slow water flow rates and high egg density all significantly increased egg surface bacterial populations. Live eggs were mainly colonized by Cytophaga sp., pseudomonas fluorescens and Aeromonas hydrophila. In contrast, dead eggs supported considerable numbers of fluorescent Pseudomonas sp. Analysis of potential nutrient sources for bacteria colonizing live egg surfaces revealed that small amounts of amino acids, phosphate and potassium may be lost by incubating eggs. Subsequently these nutrients were shown to be capable of supporting limited bacterial growth and reproduction. Dead eggs `leaked' increased amounts of the above nutrients which in turn supported higher bacterial numbers. In addition, biochemical analysis of eggs revealed amino acids and fatty acids that might be utilized by bacteria colonizing dead egg surfaces. Assessment of adhesion properties of bacteria frequently recovered from egg surfaces revealed high cell surface hydrophobicity as an important factor in successful egg colonization. Analysis of egg mortalities from groups of rainbow trout and brown trout (S.trutta L.) eggs maintained under two different incubation systems revealed that potentially a close correlation existed between egg surface bacterial numbers and mortalities in the egg during incubation. Innoculation of newly-fertilized eggs with bacteria demonstrated that groups of eggs supporting high numbers of P.fluorescens suffered significantly higher mortalities during the early part of their incubation. Exposure of incubating eggs to oxolinic acid, chlortetracycline and chloramphenicol demonstrated that numbers of bacteria on egg surfaces could be significantly reduced. However, as no corresponding increase in egg hatching success was revealed, the treatment of incubating eggs with antibiotics or antimicrobial compounds can not be recommended. In commercial hatcheries bacteria are only likely to be responsible for egg deaths during incubation when environmental conditions are unfavourable. High water temperatures, slow water flow rates and high egg density all lead to increased bacterial number of egg surfaces, reduced water circulation and low levels of dissolved oxygen. Under such circumstances sufficient amounts of dissolved oxygen may not be available to support developing embryos.