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Puffer Fish Gut Microbiota Studies Revealed Unique Bacterial Co-Occurrence Patterns and New Insights on Tetrodotoxin Producers

1
Chemistry Department, Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon, Hongkong 999077, China
2
Environmental Science Department, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University UnitedInternational College, Zhuhai 519087, China
*
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Mar. Drugs 2020, 18(5), 278; https://doi.org/10.3390/md18050278
Received: 17 April 2020 / Revised: 18 May 2020 / Accepted: 22 May 2020 / Published: 25 May 2020
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: tetrodotoxin; puffer fish; 16S rRNA; gut microbiota; bacterial symbionts tetrodotoxin; puffer fish; 16S rRNA; gut microbiota; bacterial symbionts
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MDPI and ACS Style

Li, Z.; Tian, J.; Lai, Y.; Lee, C.-H.; Cai, Z.; Yu, C.-F. Puffer Fish Gut Microbiota Studies Revealed Unique Bacterial Co-Occurrence Patterns and New Insights on Tetrodotoxin Producers. Mar. Drugs 2020, 18, 278.

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