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FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2014 Dec;90(3):883-94. doi: 10.1111/1574-6941.12442. Epub 2014 Nov 3.

Unique and shared responses of the gut microbiota to prolonged fasting: a comparative study across five classes of vertebrate hosts.

Author information

1
Department of Biology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, USA.

Abstract

Many animals face unpredictable food sources and periods of prolonged fasting, which likely present significant challenges to gut microorganisms. While several studies have demonstrated that fasting impacts the gut microbiota, experiments have not been carried out in a comparative context. We used 16S rRNA gene sequencing to document changes in colonic and cecal microbiomes of animals representing five classes of vertebrates at four time points through prolonged fasting: tilapia, toads, geckos, quail, and mice. We found differences in the starvation-induced changes in the microbiome across host species and across gut regions. Microbial phylogenetic diversity increased as a result of fasting in the colons of fish, toads, and mice, while quail exhibited a decrease in diversity; geckos exhibited no change. Microbial diversity in the cecum decreased in fish and exhibited no change in mice. Alterations in relative abundances of microbial taxa varied across hosts. Fish exhibited the most significant changes due to fasting, while geckos maintained a stable community over 28 days of fasting. We uncovered several shared responses of the microbiota across hosts. For example, all tetrapods exhibited decreases in the abundances of Coprobacillus and Ruminococcus in response to fasting. We also discuss host-mediated physiological mechanisms that may underlie these community changes.

KEYWORDS:

food restriction; host-microbe interactions; nutrient deprivation; starvation

PMID:
25319042
DOI:
10.1111/1574-6941.12442
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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