Individuals' diet diversity influences gut microbial diversity in two freshwater fish (threespine stickleback and Eurasian perch)

Daniel I. Bolnick, Lisa K. Snowberg, Philipp E. Hirsch, Christian L. Lauber, Rob Knight, J. Gregory Caporaso, Richard Svanbäck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

108 Scopus citations

Abstract

Vertebrates' diets profoundly influence the composition of symbiotic gut microbial communities. Studies documenting diet-microbiota associations typically focus on univariate or categorical diet variables. However, in nature individuals often consume diverse combinations of foods. If diet components act independently, each providing distinct microbial colonists or nutrients, we expect a positive relationship between diet diversity and microbial diversity. We tested this prediction within each of two fish species (stickleback and perch), in which individuals vary in their propensity to eat littoral or pelagic invertebrates or mixtures of both prey. Unexpectedly, in most cases individuals with more generalised diets had less diverse microbiota than dietary specialists, in both natural and laboratory populations. This negative association between diet diversity and microbial diversity was small but significant, and most apparent after accounting for complex interactions between sex, size and diet. Our results suggest that multiple diet components can interact non-additively to influence gut microbial diversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)979-987
Number of pages9
JournalEcology Letters
Volume17
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2014

Keywords

  • Diet mixing
  • Gasterosteus aculeatus
  • Generalist
  • Individual specialisation
  • Microbiota
  • Perca fluviatilis
  • Perch
  • Stable isotopes
  • Threespine stickleback

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

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