The alteration of intestinal microbiota profile and immune response in epinephelus coioides during pathogen infection

Joan Tang Xiao Joe, Yung Che Tseng, Jen Leih Wu, Ming Wei Lu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)


Epinephelus coioides, or grouper, is a high economic value fish species that plays an important role in the aquaculture industry in Asia. However, both viral and bacterial diseases have threatened grouper for many years, especially nervous necrosis virus, grouper iridovirus and Vibrio harveyi, which have caused a bottleneck in the grouper industry. Currently, intestinal microbiota can provide novel insights into the pathogenesis-related factors involved in pathogen infection. Hence, we investigated the comparison of intestinal microbiota communities in control group and pathogen-infected grouper through high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene. Our results showed that microbial diversity was decreased, whereas microbial richness was increased during pathogen infection. The individuals in each group were distributed distinctly on the PLSDA diagram, especially the GIV group. Proteobacteria and Firmicutes were the most abundant bacterial phyla in all groups. Interestingly, beneficial genera, Faecalibacterium and Bifidobacterium, predominated in the intestines of the control group. In contrast, the intestines of pathogen-infected grouper had higher levels of harmful genera such as Sphingomonas, Atopostipes, Staphylococcus and Acinetobacter. Additionally, we investigated the expression levels of innate and adaptive immune-related genes after viral and bacterial infection. The results revealed that immunoglobulin T and proinflammatory cytokine levels in the intestine increased after pathogen infection. Through these unique bacterial compositions in diseased and uninfected fish, we could establish a novel therapeutic approach and bacterial marker for preventing and controlling these diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Article number99
Pages (from-to)1-18
Number of pages18
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2021 Feb
Externally publishedYes


  • Epinephelus coioides
  • Grouper iridovirus
  • Immune response
  • Intestinal microbiota
  • Nervous necrosis virus
  • Vibrio harveyi

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • General Biochemistry,Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • Space and Planetary Science
  • Palaeontology


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