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Zebrafish. 2013 Jun;10(2):194-8. doi: 10.1089/zeb.2012.0814. Epub 2013 Mar 26.

Colonizing the embryonic zebrafish gut with anaerobic bacteria derived from the human gastrointestinal tract.

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Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


The zebrafish has become increasingly popular for microbiological research. It has been used as an infection model for a variety of pathogens, and is also emerging as a tool for studying interactions between a host and its resident microbial communities. The mouse microbiota has been transplanted into the zebrafish gut, but to our knowledge, there has been no attempt to introduce a bacterial community derived from the human gut. We explored two methods for colonizing the developing gut of 5-day-old germ-free zebrafish larvae with a defined anaerobic microbial community derived from a single human fecal sample. Both environmental exposure (static immersion) and direct microinjection into the gut resulted in the establishment of two species-Lactobacillus paracasei and Eubacterium limosum-from a community of 30 strains consisting of 22 anaerobic species. Of particular interest is E. limosum, which, as a strict anaerobe, represents a group of bacteria which until now have not been shown to colonize the developing zebrafish gut. Our success here indicates that further investigation of zebrafish as a tool for studying human gut microbial communities is warranted.

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