The microbiome mediates the interaction between predation and heavy metals.

Affiliation

Sadeq SA(1), Mills RIL(1), Beckerman AP(2).
Author information:
(1)Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK.
(2)Department of Animal and Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield, Alfred Denny Building, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TN, UK. Electronic address: [Email]

Abstract

Gut microbiota communities are fundamental ecological components in the aquatic food web. Their potential to mediate how organisms respond to multiple environmental stressors remains understudied. Here we explored how manipulations of the gut microbiome of Daphnia pulex, a keystone species in aquatic communities, influenced life history (size at maturity, age at maturity, somatic growth rate and clutch size), morphology (induced defence) and body condition (lipid status deposits) responses to combined anthropogenic (copper) and natural (predation risk) stress. Data from a factorial experiment revealed that the effect of predation risk on traits was often mediated by copper (predation risk and copper interact). These patterns align with theory linking predation risk and copper contamination via digestive physiology. We also found that each stressor, and their combination, was associated with the same community composition of the D. pulex microbiome. However, antibiotic manipulation of the microbiome reversed 7/12 the trait responses across life history, morphology and body condition. This was associated with dramatically different communities to control conditions, with clear and unique patterns of microbiome community composition for each stressor and their combination. Our study revealed that microbiome community composition is highly correlated with the response of organisms to multiple, simultaneous stressors.