The Gills of Reef Fish Support a Distinct Microbiome Influenced by Host-Specific Factors - Université de Perpignan Via Domitia Access content directly
Journal Articles Applied and Environmental Microbiology Year : 2018

The Gills of Reef Fish Support a Distinct Microbiome Influenced by Host-Specific Factors


Teleost fish represent the most diverse of the vertebrate groups and play important roles in food webs, as ecosystem engineers, and as vectors for microorganisms. However, the microbial ecology of fishes remains underexplored for most host taxa and for certain niches on the fish body. This is particularly true for the gills, the key sites of respiration and waste exchange in fishes. Here we provide a comprehensive analysis of the gill microbiome. We focus on ecologically diverse taxa from coral reefs around Moorea, sampling the gills and intestines of adults and juveniles representing 15 families. The gill microbiome composition differed significantly from that of the gut for both adults and juveniles, with fish-associated niches having lower alpha diversity values and higher beta diversity values than those for seawater, sediment, and alga-associated microbiomes. Of ∼45,000 operational taxonomic units (OTUs) detected across all samples, 11% and 13% were detected only in the gill and the intestine, respectively. OTUs most enriched in the gill included members of the gammaproteobacterial genus Shewanella and the family Endozoicimonaceae In adult fish, both gill and intestinal microbiomes varied significantly among host species grouped by diet category. Gill and intestinal microbiomes from the same individual were more similar to one another than to gill and intestinal microbiomes from different individuals. These results demonstrate that distinct body sites are jointly influenced by host-specific organizing factors operating at the level of the host individual. The results also identify taxonomic signatures unique to the gill and the intestine, confirming fish-associated niches as distinct reservoirs of marine microbial diversity.IMPORTANCE Fish breathe and excrete waste through their gills. The gills are also potential sites of pathogen invasion and colonization by other microbes. However, we know little about the microbial communities that live on the gill and the factors shaping their diversity. Focusing on ecologically distinct types of coral reef fish, we provide a comprehensive analysis of the fish gill microbiome. By comparison to microbiomes of the gut and the surrounding environment, we identify microbes unique to the gill niche. These microbes may be targets for further studies to determine the contribution of the microbiome to waste exchange or host immunity. We also show that despite exhibiting a unique taxonomic signature, the gill microbiome is influenced by factors that also influence the gut microbiome. These factors include the specific identity of the host individual. These results suggest basic principles describing how association with fishes structures the composition of microbial communities.

Dates and versions

hal-01954144 , version 1 (13-12-2018)



Marc Besson. The Gills of Reef Fish Support a Distinct Microbiome Influenced by Host-Specific Factors. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2018, 84 (9), pp.e00063. ⟨10.1128/AEM.00063-18⟩. ⟨hal-01954144⟩
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