Citrobacter species increase energy harvest by modulating intestinal microbiota in fish: Nondominant species play important functions

Mei Ling Zhang, Miao Li, Yi Sheng, Fang Tan, Liqiao Chen, Isaac Cann, Isaac Cann, Isaac Cann, Isaac Cann, Zhen Yu Du

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


An efficient energy harvesting mechanism is likely critical for animals in their natural environment. Intestinal microbiota enriched by a high-fat diet aid in lipid accumulation, a strategy likely evolved for energy harvest in mammals. However, whether this strategy is conserved among vertebrate organisms remains unclear. A bacterial strain (S1), enriched on soybean oil rich medium, was isolated from the gut of Nile tilapia and demonstrated to be a member of the Citrobacter genus. Although a high-fat diet increased the number of Citrobacter spp., these bacteria were not abundant in the intestine by high-throughput sequencing. Addition of bacterium S1 to a high-fat diet modulated intestinal microbial composition and increased high-fat diet-induced lipid accumulation in mesenteric adipose tissue, accompanied by (i) increased triglyceride absorption efficiency and triglyceride reesterification and (ii) increased intestinal permeability. Collectively, our results provide evidence that specific intestinal bacteria aid the host in harvesting more energy from a high-fat diet in fish. Furthermore, the results from the present study also suggest that nondominant bacteria in the gut may play an important role in regulating host metabolism. Importance: This study shows that the ability of gut microbiota members to enhance host energy harvest from a high-fat diet is a conserved feature of hostmicrobe interactions in fish, as in mammals. It also underscores that gut microbiota members are able to significantly impact host biology even when at low abundance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00303-20
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2020


  • Energy harvest
  • Fish
  • Gut microbiota
  • High-fat diet
  • Intestinal permeability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Physiology
  • Biochemistry
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Computer Science Applications


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