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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Environmental filtering decreases with fish development for the assembly of gut microbiota

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Gut microbiota typically occupy habitats with definable limits/borders that are comparable to oceanic islands. The gut therefore can be regarded as an 'island' for the assembly of microbial communities within the 'sea' of surrounding environments. This study aims to reveal the ecological mechanisms that govern microbiota in the fish gut 'island' ecosystem. Taxonomic compositions, phylogenetic diversity, and community turnover across host development were analyzed via the high-throughput sequencing of 16S rRNA gene amplicons. The results indicate that the Shannon diversity of gut microbiota in the three examined freshwater fish species all significantly decreased with host development, and the dominant bacterial taxa also changed significantly during host development. Null model and phylogenetic-based mean nearest taxon distance (MNTD) analyses suggest that host gut environmental filtering led to the assembly of microbial communities in the fish gut 'island'. However, the phylogenetic clustering of local communities and deterministic processes that governed community turnover became less distinct as the fish developed. The observed mechanisms that shaped fish gut microbiota seemed to be mainly shaped by the gut environment and by some other selective changes accompanying the host development process. These findings greatly enhance our understanding of stage-specific community assembly patterns in the fish gut ecosystem.

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