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Prophylactic antibiotics in the aquaculture and ornamental fish industry are intended to prevent the negative impacts of disease outbreaks. Research in mice and humans suggests that antibiotics may disturb microbiome communities and decrease microbiome-mediated disease resistance, also known as “colonization resistance.” If antibiotics impact fish as they do mice and humans, prophylactic administrations on aquaculture farms may increase downstream disease susceptibility in target hosts, despite short-term pathogen control benefits. We tested the effects of antibiotics on mortality after a pathogen challenge in the Poecilia sphenops black molly and subsequently tested if probiotic inoculations could reverse any antibiotic-induced losses of disease resistance. We found that antibiotic treatment significantly increased fish mortality. We further found that our two candidate probiotic bacterial species, Phaeobacter inhibens S4Sm and Bacillus pumilus RI06-95Sm, were able to colonize black molly microbiomes and reverse the negative impacts of antibiotics. Despite the positive impact on survival, probiotic treatment did not influence overall microbiome community structure or diversity. Our results suggest that subtle manipulations of microbiome composition can have dramatic impacts on host phenotype. The results of this study have implications for how antibiotic-treated microbiomes can be restored and suggest that small-scale additions may be as effective as wholesale transplants.

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.