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Digestion of Herring by Indigenous Bacteria in the Minke Whale Forestomach

By Monica A. Olsen, Tove H. Aagnes and Svein D. Mathiesen

Abstract

Northeastern Atlantic minke whales (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) have a multichambered stomach system which includes a nonglandular forestomach resembling that of ruminants. Bacteria from the forestomachs of herring-eating whales were enumerated and isolated in an anaerobic rumen-like culture medium (M8W medium). The total viable population of anaerobic bacteria ranged from 73 × 107 to 145 × 108/ml of forestomach fluid (n = 4). Lactobacillus spp. (19.7%), Streptococcus spp. (35.9%), and Ruminococcus spp. (12.8%) were the most common of the bacterial strains (n = 117) isolated by use of M8W medium from the forestomach fluid population of two minke whales. Most of the isolates stained gram positive (93.2%), 62.4% were cocci, and all strains were strictly anaerobic. The population of lipolytic bacteria in one animal, enumerated by use of a selective lipid medium, constituted 89.7% of the viable population. The total viable population of anaerobic bacteria in freshly caught and homogenized herring (Clupea harengus) ranged from 56.7 to 95.0 cells per gram of homogenized prey (n = 3) when M8W medium was used. Pediococcus spp. (30.6%) and Aerococcus spp. (25.0%) were most common of the bacterial strains (n = 72) isolated from the homogenized herring. Most of the bacterial strains were gram positive (80.6%), and 70.8% were cocci. Unlike the forestomach bacterial population, as many as 61.1% of the strains from the herring were facultatively anaerobic. All bacterial strains isolated from the prey had phenotypic patterns different from those of strains isolated from the dominant bacterial population in the forestomach, indicating that the forestomach microbiota is indigenous. Scanning electron microscopic examinations revealed large numbers of bacteria, surrounded by a glycocalyx, attached to partly digested food particles in the forestomach. These data support the hypothesis that symbiotic microbial digestion occurs in the forestomach and that the bacteria are indigenous to minke whales

Topics: General Microbial Ecology
Year: 1994
OAI identifier: oai:pubmedcentral.nih.gov:202004
Provided by: PubMed Central
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