Background: The observation that specific members of the microbial intestinal community can be shared among vertebrate hosts has promoted the concept of a core microbiota whose composition is determined by host-specific selection. Most studies investigating this concept in individual hosts have focused on mammals, yet the diversity of fish lineages provides unique comparative opportunities from an evolutionary, immunological and environmental perspective. Here we describe microbial intestinal communities of eleven individual Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) caught at a single location based on an extensively 454 sequenced 16S rRNA library of the V3 region.
Results: We obtained a total of 280447 sequences and identify 573 Operational Taxonomic Units (OTUs) at 97% sequence similarity level, ranging from 40 to 228 OTUs per individual. We find that ten OTUs are shared, though the number of reads of these OTUs is highly variable. This variation is further illustrated by community diversity estimates that fluctuate several orders of magnitude among specimens. The shared OTUs belong to the orders of Vibrionales, which quantitatively dominate the Atlantic cod intestinal microbiota, followed by variable numbers of Bacteroidales, Erysipelotrichales, Clostridiales, Alteromonadales and Deferribacterales.
Conclusions: The microbial intestinal community composition varies significantly in individual Atlantic cod specimens caught at a single location. This high variation among specimens suggests that a complex combination of factors influence the species distribution of these intestinal communities.