Research has demonstrated the importance of the intestinal microbiota to the health of many organisms. However, there is much we do not understand about how the microbiota are shaped and which factors influence the composition and diversity of host microbiotas. Threespine stickleback fish are emerging as a new model organism in microbiota studies. They are used extensively as a model in the study of evolution, development, and the effects of environmental contaminants on physiology; thus many stickleback specific developmental and genetic tools have been developed. Unfortunately, there are gaps in our knowledge about variation in the intestinal microbiota of Alaska stickleback populations and what factors influence that variation.
In this study, I examined variation in the microbiota of four threespine stickleback (Gasterosteus aculeatus) populations. I chose four distinct threespine stickleback populations in different habitats (Rabbit Slough, Big Lake, Bear Paw Lake, and freshwater Westchester Lagoon) to address if sex, number of parasites, or population significantly influence stickleback intestinal microbiota. The Rabbit Slough population is anadromous, while those Big Lake, Bear Paw Lake, and Westchester Lagoon are freshwater. I also characterized the environmental microbiota (water column and submerged sediment) and compared them to the intestinal microbiota to determine if they significantly influence variation in the intestinal microbiota. I hypothesized that sex would not have a significant influence on the intestinal microbiota. I also hypothesized that the number of parasites would significantly affect the stickleback microbiota such that the higher the number of parasites, the lower the microbial species diversity and evenness. I expected that the freshwater populations would be significantly different from the anadromous population but they will not be significantly different from one another. I also expected that the environmental microbiota would be significantly different from the intestinal microbiota, and the environmental microbiota of each habitat would be significantly different from each other. I found that variation among populations significantly influences the intestinal microbiota; however, sex and number of parasites are not significant. I also discovered that environmental microbiota do not significantly influence variation in intestinal microbiota.
|Commitee:||Briggs, Brandon, Duddleston, Khrystyne|
|School:||University of Alaska Anchorage|
|School Location:||United States -- Alaska|
|Source:||MAI 82/1(E), Masters Abstracts International|
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