The role of intestinal bacteria in ammonia detoxification ability of teleost fish Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Protein catabolism during digestion generates appreciable levels of ammonia in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) lumen. Amelioration by the enterocyte, via enzymes such as glutamine synthetase (GS), glutamate dehydrogenase (GDH), and alanine and aspartate aminotransferases (ALT; AST), is found in teleost fish. Conservation of these enzymes across bacterial phyla suggests that the GIT microbiome could also contribute to ammonia detoxification by providing supplemental activity. Hence, the GIT microbiome, enzyme activities, and ammonia detoxification were investigated in two fish occupying dissimilar niches; the carnivorous rainbow darter and the algivorous central stoneroller. There was a strong effect of fish species on the activity levels of GS, GDH, AST, and ALT, as well as GIT lumen ammonia concentration, and bacterial composition of the GIT microbiome. Further, removal of the intestinal bacteria impacted intestinal activities of GS and ALT in the herbivorous fish but not the carnivore. The repeatability and robustness of this relationship was tested across field locations and years. Within an individual waterbody, there was no impact of sampling location on any of these factors. However, different waterbodies affected enzyme activities and luminal ammonia concentrations in both fish, while only the central stoneroller intestinal bacteria populations varied. Overall, a relationship between GIT bacteria, enzyme activity, and ammonia detoxification was observed in herbivorous fish while the carnivorous fish displayed a correlation between enzyme activity and ammonia detoxification alone that was independent of the GIT microbiome. This could suggest that carnivorous fish are less dependent on non-host mechanisms for ammonia regulation in the GIT.

publication date

  • December 12, 2019