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Starvation alters gut microbiome and mitigates off-flavors in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides)


The present study aimed to investigate the response of intestinal microbiota during 3 weeks’ starvation of largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides), an economically important freshwater fish, using 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing and PICRUSt2 predictive functional profiling. Overall, the microbiota was mainly represented by Mycoplasma, Pseudomonas, Acinetobacter, and Microbacterium in the initial group. This pattern contrasted with that of Cetobacterium and Aeromonas, which were major representative genera in the starved group. Significant differences in the richness and composition of intestinal microbial community induced by starvation were observed. Notably, earthy-musty off-flavor compounds (geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol) were significantly decreased during starvation, which were significantly correlated with the abundance of certain actinobacterial taxa, namely, Microbacterium and Nocardioides. Additionally, the functional pathways involved in synthesis of off-flavor compounds, protein digestion, fatty acid degradation, and biosynthesis of cofactors greatly decreased with starvation, indicating that microbiota modulated the specific metabolic pathway to adapt to food deprivation. These results emphasize that starvation can modulate diversity, community structure, and functions of the intestinal microbiota and mitigate the off-flavors, which has important implications for strategies to eliminate off-flavor odorants through the application of probiotics to manipulate the gut microbiome and ultimately enhance flesh quality of freshwater fish.

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Data generated from this published paper are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.


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This research was funded by the National Key Research and Development Program of China (2020YFD0900105), the Research and Development Program for “Pioneer” and “Leading Goose” of Zhejiang province (2022C02027), and the Science Technology Department of Huzhou City and Key Research Project (2018ZD2025).

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Correspondence to Julin Yuan.

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Zou, S., Ni, M., Liu, M. et al. Starvation alters gut microbiome and mitigates off-flavors in largemouth bass (Micropterus salmoides). Folia Microbiol (2023).

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  • Gut microbiota
  • Starvation
  • Functional potentials
  • Off-flavors
  • High-throughput sequencing