Culture dependent bacteria in commercial fishes: Qualitative assessment and molecular identification using 16S rRNA gene sequencing

Nabeel Mannalamkunnath Alikunhi, Zenon B. Batang, Haitham Aljehdali, Mohammed A.M. Aziz, Abdulaziz M. Al-Suwailem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Fish contaminations have been extensively investigated in Saudi coasts, but studies pertaining to bacterial pathogens are meager. We conducted qualitative assessment and molecular identification of culture dependent bacteria in 13 fish species collected from three fishing sites and a local fish market in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. The bacterial counts of gills, skin, gut and muscle were examined on agar plates of Macconkey’s (Mac), Eosin methylene blue (EMB) and Thiosulfate Citrate Bile Salts (TCBS) culture media. Bacterial counts exhibited interspecific, locational and behavioral differences. Mugil cephalus exhibited higher counts on TCBS (all body-parts), Mac (gills, muscle and gut) and EMB (gills and muscle). Samples of Area I were with higher counts, concurrent to seawater and sediment samples, revealing the influence of residing environment on fish contamination. Among feeding habits, detritivorous fish harbored higher bacterial counts, while carnivorous group accounted for lesser counts. Counts were higher in skin of fish obtained from market compared to field samples, revealing market as a major source of contamination. Bacterial counts of skin were positively correlated with other body-parts indicating influence of surface bacterial biota in overall quality of fish. Hence, hygienic practices and proper storage facilities in the Jeddah fish market is recommended to prevent adverse effect of food-borne illness in consumers. Rahnella aquatilis (Enterobacteriaceae) and Photobacterium damselae (Vibrionaceae) were among the dominant species identified from fish muscle samples using Sanger sequencing of 16S rRNA. This bacterial species are established human pathogens capable of causing foodborne illness with severe antibiotic resistance. Opportunistic pathogens such as Hafnia sp. (Enterobacteriaceae) and Pseudomonas stutzeri (Pseudomonadaceae) were also identified from fish muscle. These findings indicate bacterial contamination risk in commonly consumed fish of Jeddah region.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1105-1116
Number of pages12
JournalSaudi Journal of Biological Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 28 2016

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): KAUST/MoA 228211
Acknowledgements: This research was funded by the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Agriculture (MoA) to KAUST (KAUST/MoA 228211). We are thankful to the authorities of KAUST for providing facilities and all CMOR staff for invaluable assistance throughout the project. The views and opinions expressed in this paper are those of the authors, and do not represent the funding agencies.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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