Seasonal Dynamics Are the Major Driver of Microbial Diversity and Composition in Intensive Freshwater Aquaculture

Sophi Marmen, Eduard Fadeev, Ashraf Al Ashhab, Ayana Benet-Perelberg, Alon Naor, Hemant J. Patil, Eddie Cytryn, Yehudit Viner-Mozzini, Assaf Sukenik, Maya Lalzar, Daniel Sher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aquaculture facilities such as fishponds are one of the most anthropogenically impacted freshwater ecosystems. The high fish biomass reared in aquaculture is associated with an intensive input into the water of fish-feed and fish excrements. This nutrients load may affect the microbial community in the water, which in turn can impact the fish health. To determine to what extent aquaculture practices and natural seasonal cycles affect the microbial populations, we characterized the microbiome of an inter-connected aquaculture system at monthly resolution, over 3 years. The system comprised two fishponds, where fish are grown, and an operational water reservoir in which fish are not actively stocked. Clear natural seasonal cycles of temperature and inorganic nutrients concentration, as well as recurring cyanobacterial blooms during summer, were observed in both the fishponds and the reservoir. The structure of the aquatic bacterial communities in the system, characterized using 16S rRNA sequencing, was explained primarily by the natural seasonality, whereas aquaculture-related parameters had only a minor explanatory power. However, the cyanobacterial blooms were characterized by different cyanobacterial clades dominating at each fishpond, possibly in response to distinct nitrogen and phosphate ratios. In turn, nutrient ratios may have been affected by the magnitude of fish feed input. Taken together, our results show that, even in strongly anthropogenically impacted aquatic ecosystems, the structure of bacterial communities is mainly driven by the natural seasonality, with more subtle effects of aquaculture-related factors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number679743
Pages (from-to)679743
JournalFrontiers in Microbiology
StatePublished - 24 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2021 Marmen, Fadeev, Al Ashhab, Benet-Perelberg, Naor, Patil, Cytryn, Viner-Mozzini, Sukenik, Lalzar and Sher.


  • 16S rRNA
  • cyanobacteria
  • fishpond
  • microbiome
  • runoff

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Microbiology


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