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The Impact of Bacteria on the Mucus Layer of Salmon Skin

Bacteria Affect the Skin Mucus Layer in Salmon: Understanding their Interactions and Importance

As humans, we know that billions of bacteria live inside our body. They are necessary for our well-being and healthy living. But did you know that fish also have a rich bacterial ecosystem? Researchers at NTNU have been conducting experiments to understand how bacteria affect the fish’s growth, genes, and mucous membranes.

In this article, we’ll explore why it’s essential to study bacteria in fish, how researchers are conducting this study, and its potential impact on the fishing industry, our food supply, and the environment.

Why Study Bacteria in Fish?

Unlike humans, fish live in an aquatic environment that is teeming with microorganisms. These microorganisms can have both positive and negative impacts on fish’s health and growth. Researchers aim to study these microorganisms to understand their interactions with fish and how they affect their development.

Understanding this interaction could help prevent fish from getting sick and provide a more sustainable way of producing fish. Additionally, it could lead to better marine conservation and protection practices.

How Researchers Study Bacteria in Fish?

Researchers at NTNU have developed a model system called “gnotobiotic experimental system” that allows them to control which bacteria are present in fish. By comparing bacteria-free fish with “normal” fish colonized by bacteria, researchers can determine how bacteria affect the host’s development and health.

The researchers chose Atlantic Salmon as their study subject. These salmon are bred bacteria-free for up to 12 weeks after the eggs hatch. The researchers keep the yolk sac of the salmon fry bacteria-free throughout the 12-week yolk sac phase by surface treating the fish eggs.

The bacteria-free fry become a blank slate where the researchers can add the bacteria they want and then see exactly what happens without interference from unknown bacteria. This technique allows researchers to investigate which factors control the composition of bacterial flora in the fry.

Related Facts

– Bacteria in the skin mucus layer of fish are essential for keeping them healthy, preventing infections and diseases. The bacteria produce enzymes and chemicals that help break down food, communicate with the fish immune system, and provide protection from harmful microorganisms.
– Fish, including salmon, are also hosts to many types of parasites, viruses, and fungi that can cause diseases, impact their growth rate, and negatively impact their reproduction.
– Funding for bacteria-free fish fry research came from the Norwegian Research Council, the European Union, and a grant from the Norwegian Seafood Research Fund.

Key Takeaway

Bacteria-free model systems are generalizable to understand interactions between bacteria and its host. The experiments on bacteria-free fish provide a powerful tool for conducting such research. Studying bacteria in fish can lead to sustainable and responsible fish production, better marine conservation, and stronger protection practices for aquatic life.


Although it may seem small, understanding bacteria’s effects on fish and other aquatic organisms can have a profound impact on human health, the fishing industry, and the environment. Researchers at NTNU’s Department of Biotechnology and Food Science aim to discover the correlation between bacterial flora and fish’s development and health by conducting experiments that create bacteria-free fry. The results can provide insight into microbiota in other animals, including humans, and benefit industries that depend on the aquatic ecosystem.

Denk Liu
Denk Liu
Denk Liu is an honest person who always tells it like it is. He's also very objective, seeing the situation for what it is and not getting wrapped up in emotion. He's a regular guy - witty and smart but not pretentious. He loves playing video games and watching action movies in his free time.

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