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ISME J. 2015 Jan;9(1):59-67. doi: 10.1038/ismej.2014.116. Epub 2014 Jul 15.

Water fleas require microbiota for survival, growth and reproduction.

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Zoological Institute, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


Microbiota have diverse roles in the functioning of their hosts; experiments using model organisms have enabled investigations into these functions. In the model crustacean Daphnia, little knowledge exists about the effect of microbiota on host well being. We assessed the effect of microbiota on Daphnia magna by experimentally depriving animals of their microbiota and comparing their growth, survival and fecundity to that of their bacteria-bearing counterparts. We tested Daphnia coming from both lab-reared parthenogenetic eggs of a single genotype and from genetically diverse field-collected resting eggs. We showed that bacteria-free hosts are smaller, less fecund and have higher mortality than those with microbiota. We also manipulated the association by exposing bacteria-free Daphnia to a single bacterial strain of Aeromonas sp., and to laboratory environmental bacteria. These experiments further demonstrated that the Daphnia-microbiota system is amenable to manipulation under various experimental conditions. The results of this study have implications for studies of D. magna in ecotoxicology, ecology and environmental genomics.

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