Rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum) from a river impacted by municipal wastewater effluents have altered gut content microbiomes
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Municipal wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent contains pharmaceuticals and personal care products known to affect fish health and reproduction. The microbiome is a community of bacteria integral in maintaining host health and is influenced by species, diet, and environment. This study investigated changes in the diversity and composition of the gut content microbiome of rainbow darter (Etheostoma caeruleum) at ten sites on the Grand River, Ontario, Canada. Gut contents were collected in fall 2018 from these fish at sites upstream and downstream of two municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs; Waterloo and Kitchener). 16S rRNA genes were sequenced to determine the composition and diversity (alpha and beta) of microbial taxa present. Gut content bacterial alpha diversity increased downstream of both WWTP outfalls; dominance of bacterial amplicon sequence variants decreased compared to upstream fish. Fish collected at different sites had distinct bacterial communities, with upstream samples dominant in Proteobacteria and Firmicutes, and downstream samples increasingly abundant in Proteobacteria and Cyanobacteria. In mammals, increased abundance of Proteobacteria is indicative of microbial dysbiosis and has been linked to altered health outcomes, but this is not yet known for fish. This research indicates that the fish gut content microbiome was altered downstream of WWTP effluent outfalls and could lead to negative health outcomes.
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