Starvation causes changes in the intestinal transcriptome and microbiome that are reversed upon refeeding.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

BACKGROUND: The ability of animals and their microbiomes to adapt to starvation and then restore homeostasis after refeeding is fundamental to their continued survival and symbiosis. The intestine is the primary site of nutrient absorption and microbiome interaction, however our understanding of intestinal adaptations to starvation and refeeding remains limited. Here we used RNA sequencing and 16S rRNA gene sequencing to uncover changes in the intestinal transcriptome and microbiome of zebrafish subjected to long-term starvation and refeeding compared to continuously fed controls. RESULTS: Starvation over 21 days led to increased diversity and altered composition in the intestinal microbiome compared to fed controls, including relative increases in Vibrio and reductions in Plesiomonas bacteria. Starvation also led to significant alterations in host gene expression in the intestine, with distinct pathways affected at early and late stages of starvation. This included increases in the expression of ribosome biogenesis genes early in starvation, followed by decreased expression of genes involved in antiviral immunity and lipid transport at later stages. These effects of starvation on the host transcriptome and microbiome were almost completely restored within 3 days after refeeding. Comparison with published datasets identified host genes responsive to starvation as well as high-fat feeding or microbiome colonization, and predicted host transcription factors that may be involved in starvation response. CONCLUSIONS: Long-term starvation induces progressive changes in microbiome composition and host gene expression in the zebrafish intestine, and these changes are rapidly reversed after refeeding. Our identification of bacterial taxa, host genes and host pathways involved in this response provides a framework for future investigation of the physiological and ecological mechanisms underlying intestinal adaptations to food restriction.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jawahar, J; McCumber, AW; Lickwar, CR; Amoroso, CR; de la Torre Canny, SG; Wong, S; Morash, M; Thierer, JH; Farber, SA; Bohannan, BJM; Guillemin, K; Rawls, JF

Published Date

  • March 22, 2022

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 23 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 225 -

PubMed ID

  • 35317738

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC8941736

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1471-2164

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1186/s12864-022-08447-2


  • eng

Conference Location

  • England