Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Petrie-Hanson, Lora

Committee Member

Lawrence, Mark

Committee Member

Rosser, T. Graham

Committee Member

Hanson, Larry

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms

Visible to MSU only for 2 years

Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Veterinary Medical Science

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D)


College of Veterinary Medicine


College of Agriculture and Life Sciences


Veterinary Medical Science Program


Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and phytochemical feed additives (PFAs) were evaluated in this study to determine the effects of immune stimulation on gut immunity in the zebrafish, Danio rerio, and the channel catfish, Ictalurus punctatus. Rag1-/- (MT) zebrafish were used to study how the TLR ligands β-glucan and resiquimod (R848) affect the innate immune system in the gut of MT zebrafish. Enhanced expression of marker genes (NITR9, NCCRP-1 and MPEG-1) indicated stimulation of Natural Killer (NK) cells, non-specific cytotoxic cells (NCCs) and macrophages. After challenge with Edwardsiella ictaluri, MT zebrafish stimulated with β-glucan demonstrated higher survival and the presence of more macrophages/monocytes in the gut than control MT zebrafish. A PFA test diet containing a blend of prebiotic fiber, oregano, thyme, cinnamon essential oils, and Yucca schidigera (ONE Current™, OC) was fed to channel catfish for 3 months in ponds to determine the effect on channel catfish fingerling growth. Fish were fed in ponds and a tank bacterial challenge followed to test the efficacy of the product. Catfish fed OC demonstrated greater weight gain and feed conversion ratios, higher survival after challenge with E. ictaluri, greater phagocytosis or binding by macrophages and cytotoxic cells. Catfish fed OC also demonstrated greater gut surface area after 2 months feeding OC. To elucidate the effect(s) of each of the compounds in the OC diet on gut immune responses and to determine if PFAs can decrease bacterial colonization and replication within gut tissues, WT and MT zebrafish were fed diets containing different compounds included in OC. Quantification of live bacteria from gut and kidney tissue was determined after challenge with E. ictaluri. Expression levels of immune response genes were evaluated after ingestion of PFAs. Actifibe, Essential oil 25 ppm (EO 25) and Actifibe + EO demonstrated the lowest infection and colonization rate, upregulation of immune response genes, and significantly higher survival when challenged with E. ictaluri. This study demonstrates the potential for application of TLR ligand and feed administered PFAs to improve fish health. Our findings provide a more comprehensive understanding of host gut/pathogen interactions as well as suggestions for novel disease control measures.