Authors: Mercedes Quintanilla-Mena, Julio Vega-Arreguin, Marcela Del Río-García, Victoria Patiño-Suárez, Santy Peraza-Echeverria & Carlos Puch-Hau


Benzo[a]pyrene (BaP) is a highly toxic and carcinogenic polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) whose toxicological effects in the gut microbiota of aquatic organisms have not yet been fully revealed. Therefore, in this study, we used high-throughput 16S rRNA gene sequencing to evaluate the effects of BaP in the gut microbiome of Oreochromis niloticus, including its possible participation in the process of detoxification and its ability to recover. The fish were injected with a single intraperitoneal dose of 20 mg kg−1 of BaP, and the effects in the microbiome were evaluated at 24, 72, and 120 h post-injection. The results indicate a clear dysbiosis (in composition, relative abundance, diversity, and interaction networks) of the gut microbiota during 24 h post-injection, dominated by Fusobacteria and Bacteroidetes and a decrease in Proteobacteria and Spirochaetae. Interestingly, a slight recovery of the microbiome begins at 72 h and stabilises at 120 h post-injection. Pathway analysis revealed the participation of the gut microbiome in PAH degradation mainly at 24 h post-injection. This study provides new insights in the toxicology of BaP in O. niloticus and the first evidence of the ability of the gut microbiome to recovery after a chemical disturbance.

Keywords: Aquatic toxicology, Gut microbiota recovery, Tilapia, Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, Gut dysbiosis

Graphical abstract