Aquarium Microbiome Influence on Resident Animal Health: A Case Study
IAAAM 2014
William G. Van Bonn1*; Allen LaPointe1; Angela D. Kent2
1A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare, Shedd Aquarium, Chicago, IL, USA; 2Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL, USA


Over a nine-month period all animals from an established, 3-million gallon, indoor, closed, artificial sea water aquarium system were temporarily relocated to an outdoor system in another state. The indoor system was drained and remained fallow for the nine-month period. Water samples from the source system prior to animal relocation, the temporary outdoor system and the source system following renovation and animal return were collected and submitted for automated ribosomal intergenic spacer analyses (ASIRA) and pyrosequencing analysis. These data illustrate very different but stable aquatic microbial assemblages between sites. Simultaneous surveillance of resident animal adrenal hormone production and measures of granulocyte and monocyte functional capacity provide compelling evidence for the role of the aquarium microbiome in promoting robust immunological responses.1 We believe this further supports our aquatic animal hygiene hypothesis and highlights the need to better understand aquatic system microbial assemblages and how to manipulate them to promote optimal resident animal health.2,3


We thank Ms. Caryn Svienty for sample collection, preparation and shipping.

* Presenting author

Literature Cited

1.  Spoon TR, Romano TA. Neuroimmunological response of beluga whales (Delphinapterus leucas) to translocation to a novel social environment. Brain, Behavior and Immunity. 2012;26:122–131.

2.  Carmack TB, Van Bonn W, Poll C. 2007. Potential implications of the hygiene hypothesis on cetacean management systems. In: Proceedings from the 38th Annual IAAAM Conference; May 5–9, 2007; Orlando, FL, USA; pp. 156–157.

3.  Van Bonn WG, LaPointe A, Svienty C, Boehm J, Kent A, Young S, Haulena M. Further exploration of the aquatic animal hygiene hypothesis. In: Proceedings from the 39th Annual IAAAM Conference; May 10–14, 2008; Pomezia, Rome, Italy; pp. 11–12.


Speaker Information
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William G. Van Bonn
A. Watson Armour III Center for Animal Health and Welfare
Shedd Aquarium
Chicago, IL, USA

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