Puffer fish gut microbiota studies revealed unique bacterial co-occurrence patterns and new insights on tetrodotoxin producers

Zhenchi Li*, Jinglin Tian, Yukun Lai, Chiu Hong Lee, Zongwei CAI, Chun Fai Yu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Tetrodotoxin (TTX) is a potent neurotoxin isolated mainly from toxic puffer fish. To date, the TTX biosynthetic mechanism inside its hosts remains unresolved. Here, we hypothesize the TTX synthesis relies on the host gut microbiota, including the neglected non-culturable bacteria. In these studies, we collected the gut contents from 5 puffer fish species of the genus Takifugu including one suspected hybrid species for gut microbiota study by 16S rRNA amplicon metagenomics approach. Their gut samples were divided into toxic and non-toxic groups based on the TTX concentrations in the livers detected by LC-MS/MS. Bacterial diversity studies showed that gut microbiota structures were significantly different between toxic and non-toxic species. Vibrio and Cyanobacteria centered at the gut bacterial co-occurrence network, suggesting their importance in TTX biosynthesis. The results of PICRUSt2 metagenomic prediction and gene set enrichment analysis provided new support of arginine-precursor required in TTX biosynthesis. This is the first study to profile the gut microbiota in toxic and non-toxic puffer fish species by 16S rRNA amplicon metagenomic approach, defining significant microbial co-occurrence patterns in their gut environment. Our data supported the proposed biosynthesis of TTX inside the hosts by their gut bacterial symbionts using arginine as a precursor.

Original languageEnglish
JournalMarine Drugs
Volume18
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - May 2020

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Drug Discovery

User-Defined Keywords

  • 16S rRNA
  • Bacterial symbionts
  • Gut microbiota
  • Puffer fish
  • Tetrodotoxin

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