The potential role of gut microbiota in shaping host energetics and metabolic rate

Lindsay, E. C., Metcalfe, N. B. and Llewellyn, M. S. (2020) The potential role of gut microbiota in shaping host energetics and metabolic rate. Journal of Animal Ecology, 89(11), pp. 2415-2426. (doi: 10.1111/1365-2656.13327) (PMID:32858775)

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Abstract

It is increasingly recognised that symbiotic microbiota (especially those present in the gut) have important influences on the functioning of their host. Here we review the interplay between this microbial community and the growth, metabolic rate and nutritional energy harvest of the host. We show how recent developments in experimental and analytical methods have allowed much easier characterisation of the nature, and increasingly the functioning, of the gut microbiota. Manipulation studies that remove or augment gut microorganisms or transfer them between hosts have allowed unprecedented insights into their impact. While much of the information to date has come from studies of laboratory model organisms, recent studies have used a more diverse range of host species, including those living in natural conditions, revealing their ecological relevance. The gut microbiota can provide the host with dietary nutrients that would be otherwise unobtainable, as well as allow the host flexibility in its capacity to cope with changing environments. The composition of the gut microbial community of a species can vary seasonally or when the host moves between environments (e.g. fresh and sea water in the case of migratory fish). It can also change with host diet choice, metabolic rate (or demands) and life stage. These changes in gut microbial community composition enable the host to live within different environments, adapt to seasonal changes in diet and maintain performance throughout its entire life history, highlighting the ecological relevance of the gut microbiota. While it is evident that gut microbes can underpin host metabolic plasticity, the causal nature of associations between particular microorganisms and host performance is not always clear unless a manipulative approach has been used. Many studies have focussed on a correlative approach by characterising microbial community composition, but there is now a need for more experimental studies in both wild and laboratory‐based environments, to reveal the true role of gut microbiota in influencing the functioning of their hosts, including its capacity to tolerate environmental change. We highlight areas where these would be particularly fruitful in the context of ecological energetics.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Llewellyn, Dr Martin and Metcalfe, Professor Neil and Lindsay, Elle
Authors: Lindsay, E. C., Metcalfe, N. B., and Llewellyn, M. S.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Biodiversity Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
Journal Name:Journal of Animal Ecology
Publisher:Wiley
ISSN:0021-8790
ISSN (Online):1365-2656
Published Online:28 August 2020
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2020 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Animal Ecology 89(11): 2415-2426
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
190627Doctoral Training Grant 2013 - 2017Mary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/L50497X/1Research and Innovation Services
190790EPSRC DTG 2014Mary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M506539/1Research and Innovation Services
190906EPSRC 2015 DTPMary Beth KneafseyEngineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)EP/M508056/1Research and Innovation Services
173483A microbial basis for Atlantic Salmon energeticsMartin LlewellynBiotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC)BB/P001203/1LS - Animal Biology
305090MITOWILDNeil MetcalfeEuropean Commission (EC)834653Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine