Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture
Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture

Characterisation of the Gut Bacteria of Cultured and Wild Spiny Lobster (Panulirus ornatus)


The commercial onshore aquaculture of the spiny lobster (Panulirus ornatus), while in its infancy, has progressed rapidly from the enabling research that continues at the University of Tasmania. The development of lobster feeds, both fresh and manufactured, has been critical to the success of this emerging aquaculture sector. Fresh feeds derived from mussel represent the gold standard in terms of the growth performance of juvenile lobsters. Nonetheless, concerns regarding availability, sustainability, and potential biosecurity issues of fresh feeds highlight the importance of developing manufactured feeds for lobster aquaculture. Wild lobsters are assumed to have a balanced natural diet that allows for standard growth and development, and as such natural diets are often used as a reference for feed development. Similarly, the gut microbiota associated with a natural diet is assumed to reflect a healthy microbial assemblage. The aim of this study was to compare the microbiota of the hindgut and hepatopancreas of cultured (P. ornatus) fed with a commercial prawn pellet or mussel to that of wild spiny lobster juveniles. Gut samples were analysed using Oxford Nanopore 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Based on principal coordinate analysis, the gut bacteria of cultured lobsters were different from the wild juveniles. The core microbiota of the hindgut and hepatopancreas libraries were phyla Proteobacteria (Gamma, Alpha) and Bacteroidetes. Vibrio was the most dominant genus in both organs. The differences in bacterial relative abundance were mainly between cultured (pellet-, mussel-fed) and wild lobsters. In conclusion, bacteria in the cultured lobsters had significantly different profiles to that of the wild juveniles, indicating that current onshore aquaculture practices alter the gut microbiota. A number of different feeding and culture practices may be required if the aim of closed culture practices is to attain a gut microbiota in cultured animals that is representative of that found in wild spiny lobsters.


Research Hub Investigator(s)
Publication Year
Ooi, M.C., Trotter, A.J., Smith, G.G. and Bridle, A.R., 2023. Characterisation of the Gut Bacteria of Cultured and Wild Spiny Lobster Panulirus ornatus. Applied Microbiology, 3(1), pp.241-253.
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The ARC Research Hub for Sustainable Onshore Lobster Aquaculture is funded by the Australian Government through the Australian Research Council Industrial Transformation Research Program. 

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Australian Research CouncilInstitute of Marine and Antarctic StudiesUniversity of TasmaniaOrnatasUniversity of Sunshine CoastPFG GroupUniversity of New Zealand
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