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Background: Recent increases in understanding the ecological and evolutionary roles of microbial communities have underscored the importance of their hosts’ biology. Yet, little is known about gut microbiota dynamics during the early stages of ecological diversification and speciation. We sequenced the V4 region of the 16s rRNA gene to study the gut microbiota of Nicaraguan Midas cichlid fish (Amphilophus cf. citrinellus). Specifically, we tested the hypothesis that parallel divergence in trophic ecology in extremely young adaptive radiations from two crater lakes is associated with parallel changes of their gut microbiota. Results: Bacterial communities of fish guts and lake water were highly distinct, indicating that the gut microbiota is shaped by host-specific factors. Among individuals of the same crater lake, differentiation in trophic ecology was weakly associated with gut microbiota differentiation, suggesting that diet, to some extent, affects the gut microbiota. However, differences in trophic ecology were much more pronounced across than within species whereas similar patterns were not observed for taxonomic and functional differences of the gut microbiota. Across the two crater lakes, we could not detect conclusive evidence for parallel changes of the gut microbiota associated with trophic ecology. Conclusions: A lack of clearly differentiated niches during the early stages of ecological diversification might result in non-parallel changes of gut microbial communities, as observed in our study system as well as in other recently diverged fish species. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.].
Härer, A., Torres-Dowdall, J., Rometsch, S. J., Yohannes, E., Machado-Schiaffino, G., & Meyer, A. (2020). Parallel and non-parallel changes of the gut microbiota during trophic diversification in repeated young adaptive radiations of sympatric cichlid fish. Microbiome, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40168-020-00897-8