SUMMARY: An investigation of the bacterial flora of the representative flatfish, skate and lemon sole, was carried out by direct counts of special groups of bacteria and by the analysis of over 1700 strains of bacteria isolated from the fish. Luminous and agar-digesting bacteria occurred seasonally on fish. Luminous strains occurred mainly in the gut contents. A group of sea-water-loving spp. which seem to require sea water for growth on initial isolation was present on the flatfish in variable numbers throughout the year. A more or less distinct intestinal flora was present in North Sea flatfish in which a homogeneous group of micro-organisms provisionally labelled Gut Group vibrios predominates; this group includes luminous bacteria. The bacterial populations of skin and gills were similar in both the fish studied and were composed principally of Gram-negative rods of the and genera. The composition of the bacterial flora of the two flatfish, as calculated from an analysis of strains isolated from sea-water agar plates, was: Lemon sole: 60%, 14%, 8%, 5%, corynebacteria 1%, cocci 1%, Gut Group vibrios 9%, miscellaneous 2%. Skate: 53%, 13%, 6%, 9%, corynebacteria 2%, cocci 3%, Gut Group vibrios 12%, miscellaneous 2%.


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