Roeselers, G., Mittge, E.K., Stephens, W.Z., Parichy, D.M., Cavanaugh, C.M., Guillemin, K., and Rawls, J.F. (2011) Evidence for a core gut microbiota in the zebrafish. The ISME Journal. 5(10):1595-608.
Experimental analysis of gut microbial communities and their interactions with vertebrate hosts is conducted predominantly in domesticated animals that have been maintained in laboratory facilities for many generations. These animal models are useful for studying coevolved relationships between host and microbiota only if the microbial communities that occur in animals in lab facilities are representative of those that occur in nature. We performed 16S rRNA gene sequence-based comparisons of gut bacterial communities in zebrafish collected recently from their natural habitat and those reared for generations in lab facilities in different geographic locations. Patterns of gut microbiota structure in domesticated zebrafish varied across different lab facilities in correlation with historical connections between those facilities. However, gut microbiota membership in domesticated and recently caught zebrafish was strikingly similar, with a shared core gut microbiota. The zebrafish intestinal habitat therefore selects for specific bacterial taxa despite radical differences in host provenance and domestication status.