ANSC Grad student transplants gut bacteria to increase aquaculture yields
With the global population on the rise and new agricultural land in short supply, aquaculture offers untapped potential to increase global food production and help feed the world.
PhD student Guglielmo Raymo is researching ways to make aquaculture even more productive by manipulating the bacteria in the digestive tracts of fish. He aimed to build off of research from his advisor, Associate Professor Mohamed Salem in the Department of Animal and Avian Sciences, who previously showed that rainbow trout from families with larger muscles had a different collection of bacteria in their guts than rainbow trout from families with smaller muscles.
Scientists believe that certain gut bacteria may be more efficient at converting food to energy, which helps fish pack on muscle mass—and that translates to larger edible fillets. Given this, Raymo wanted to find out if he could boost the size of small fillet-producing fish by colonizing their digestive tracts with the same microbiome as the bigger-fillet-producing fish.
It turns out he could. Not only did the gut bacteria recipients pack on the weight, but Raymo documented changes in molecular processes related to their metabolism, like their cellular response to insulin and their muscles’ ability to take up oxygen.