Association between gut health and gut microbiota in a polluted environment
Journal article, 2024

Animals host complex bacterial communities in their gastrointestinal tracts, with which they share a mutualistic interaction. The numerous effects these interactions grant to the host include regulation of the immune system, defense against pathogen invasion, digestion of otherwise undigestible foodstuffs, and impacts on host behaviour. Exposure to stressors, such as environmental pollution, parasites, and/or predators, can alter the composition of the gut microbiome, potentially affecting host-microbiome interactions that can be manifest in the host as, for example, metabolic dysfunction or inflammation. However, whether a change in gut microbiota in wild animals associates with a change in host condition is seldom examined. Thus, we quantified whether wild bank voles inhabiting a polluted environment, areas where there are environmental radionuclides, exhibited a change in gut microbiota (using 16S amplicon sequencing) and concomitant change in host health using a combined approach of transcriptomics, histological staining analyses of colon tissue, and quantification of short-chain fatty acids in faeces and blood. Concomitant with a change in gut microbiota in animals inhabiting contaminated areas, we found evidence of poor gut health in the host, such as hypotrophy of goblet cells and likely weakened mucus layer and related changes in Clca1 and Agr2 gene expression, but no visible inflammation in colon tissue. Through this case study we show that inhabiting a polluted environment can have wide reaching effects on the gut health of affected animals, and that gut health and other host health parameters should be examined together with gut microbiota in ecotoxicological studies.





Habitat degradation



Toni Jernfors

University of Jyväskylä

Anton Lavrinienko

University of Jyväskylä

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zürich (ETH)

Igor Vareniuk

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Rikard Landberg

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

Rikard Fristedt

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Food and Nutrition Science

Olena Tkachenko

Taras Shevchenko National University of Kyiv

Sara Taskinen

University of Jyväskylä

Eugene Tukalenko

Institute for Nuclear Research of NAS of Ukraine

Tapio Mappes

University of Jyväskylä

Phillip C. Watts

University of Jyväskylä

Science of the Total Environment

0048-9697 (ISSN) 1879-1026 (eISSN)

Vol. 914 169804

Subject Categories

Biological Sciences





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