The gut microbial community in vertebrates plays a role in nutrient digestion and absorption, development of intestine and immune systems, resistance to infection, regulation of bone mass and even host behavior and can thus impact host fitness. Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) reintroduction efforts into Lake Ontario, Canada, have been unsuccessful, likely due to competition with non-native salmonids. In this study, we explored interspecific competition effects on the gut microbiota of two Atlantic salmon populations (LaHave and Sebago) resulting from four non-native salmonids. After 10 months of rearing in semi-natural stream tanks under six interspecific competition treatments, we characterized the gut microbiota of 178 Atlantic salmon by parallel sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. We found 3978 bacterial OTUs across all samples. Microbiota alpha diversity and abundance of 27 OTUs significantly differed between the two populations. Interspecific competition reduced relative abundance of potential beneficial bacteria (six genera of lactic acid bacteria) as well as 13 OTUs, but only in the LaHave population, indicating population-specific competition effects. The pattern of gut microbiota response to interspecific competition may reflect local adaptation of the host-microbiota interactions and can be used to select candidate populations for improved species reintroduction success.
He, X., Chaganti, S. R., & Heath, D. D. (2018). Population-Specific Responses to Interspecific Competition in the Gut Microbiota of Two Atlantic Salmon (Salmo salar) Populations. Microbial Ecology, 75(1), 140–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-017-1035-6