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Community composition, diversity, and metabolism of intestinal microbiota in cultivated European eel (Anguilla anguilla)


The intestinal tract, which harbours tremendous numbers of bacteria, plays a pivotal role in the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Here, high-throughput sequencing technology was used to determine the community composition and complexity of the intestinal microbiota in cultivated European eels during three stages of their lifecycle, after which the metabolic potentials of their intestinal microbial communities were assessed. The results demonstrated that European eel intestinal microbiota were dominated by bacteria in the phyla Proteobacteria and Fusobacteria. Statistical analyses revealed that the three cultured European eel life stages (elver, yellow eel, and silver eel) shared core microbiota dominated by Aeromonas. Phylogenetic Investigation of Communities by Reconstruction of Unobserved States (PICRUSt) predictions of metagenome function revealed that the European eel intestinal microbiota might play significant roles in host nutrient metabolism. Biolog AN MicroPlate™ analysis and extracellular enzyme assays of culturable intestinal bacteria showed that the intestinal microbiota have a marked advantage in the metabolism of starch, which is the main carbohydrate component in European eel formulated feed. Understanding the ecology and functions of the intestinal microbiota during different developmental stages will help us improve the effects of fish-based bacteria on the composition and metabolic capacity of nutrients in European eels.

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This work was supported by grants from the Department of Science and Technology of Fujian Province (Nos. 2014 J01111 and 2017 J01625), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (No. 31670125), the Innovation Program of Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences (No. 2016PI-18), and the Special Scientific Research Funds for Public Scientific Research Institution of Fujian (No. 2015R1025-8).

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Correspondence to Baoyu Tian or Yongkang Song.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. The described field studies were permitted by the eel farm. The field studies did not involve endangered or protected species. This study has been reviewed and approved by the ethics committee of the Institute of Hydrobiology, Fujian Academy of Agricultural Sciences.

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Huang, W., Cheng, Z., Lei, S. et al. Community composition, diversity, and metabolism of intestinal microbiota in cultivated European eel (Anguilla anguilla). Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 102, 4143–4157 (2018).

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  • Cultivated European eel
  • Intestinal microbiome
  • Community composition
  • Metabolic potential
  • Fish health and nutrients