Zac Stephens, W., Burns, A.R., Stagaman, K., Wong, S., Rawls, J.F., Guillemin, K., Bohannan, B.J. (2016) The composition of the zebrafish intestinal microbial community varies across development. The ISME Journal. 10(3):644-54.
The assembly of resident microbial communities is an important event in animal development; however, the extent to which this process mirrors the developmental programs of host tissues is unknown. Here we surveyed the intestinal bacteria at key developmental time points in a sibling group of 135 individuals of a model vertebrate, the zebrafish (Danio rerio). Our survey revealed stage-specific signatures in the intestinal microbiota and extensive interindividual variation, even within the same developmental stage. Microbial community shifts were apparent during periods of constant diet and environmental conditions, as well as in concert with dietary and environmental change. Interindividual variation in the intestinal microbiota increased with age, as did the difference between the intestinal microbiota and microbes in the surrounding environment. Our results indicate that zebrafish intestinal microbiota assemble into distinct communities throughout development, and that these communities are increasingly different from the surrounding environment and from one another.The ISME Journal advance online publication, 4 September 2015; doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.140.