Effects of plant-based proteins and handling stress on intestinal mucus microbiota in rainbow trout.


Marvin Suhr, Finn-Thorbjörn Fichtner-Grabowski, Henrike Seibel, Corinna Bang, Andre Franke, Carsten Schulz, Stéphanie C Hornburg

Year of publication










Impact factor



Via 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing, this study explores whether the gut mucus microbiota of rainbow trout is affected by the interaction of a plant-protein-based diet and a daily handling stressor (chasing with a fishing net) across two genetic lines (A, B). Initial body weights of fish from lines A and B were 124.7 g and 147.2 g, respectively. Fish were fed 1.5% of body weight per day for 59 days either of two experimental diets, differing in their fish meal [fishmeal-based diet (F): 35%, plant-based diet (V): 7%] and plant-based protein content (diet F: 47%, diet V: 73%). No diet- or stress-related effect on fish performance was observed at the end of the trial. However, we found significantly increased observed ASVs in the intestinal mucus of fish fed diet F compared to diet V. No significant differences in Shannon diversity could be observed between treatments. The autochthonous microbiota in fish fed with diet V was dominated by representatives of the genera Mycoplasma, Cetobacterium, and Ruminococcaceae, whereas Enterobacteriaceae and Photobacterium were significantly associated with diet F. The mucus bacteria in both genetic lines were significantly separated by diet, but neither by stress nor an interaction, as obtained via PERMANOVA. However, pairwise comparisons revealed that the diet effect was only significant in stressed fish. Therefore, our findings indicate that the mucus-associated microbiota is primarily modulated by the protein source, but this modulation is mediated by the stress status of the fish.