About this Research Topic
Aquaculture is one of the fastest-growing food production sectors providing more than half of the fish supply around the world and thus providing a healthy food source with high protein and low-saturated fat for human consumption. To meet the increasing demand for aquafeeds while ensuring sustainable aquaculture growth, there has been a trend over past decades to switch from the fisheries-dependent fish meal as the primary protein ingredient to alternative feed ingredients. Such ingredients (i.e. plants, terrestrial animal by-products, single-cell proteins) have been constantly evaluated on whether they satisfy the demand of the aquafeed industry, with some of them showing promising application. However, there are still limitations on the use of alternative feed ingredients due to their negative impacts on growth performance and gut health. Understanding how these ingredients affect the gut function and digestion may improve their applicability in aquafeeds.
The gut microbiota plays a vital role in aiding digestive function and the formation of a defensive barrier against pathogenic invasions; thus, maintaining a balanced microbial profile in the gut is essential for promoting efficient nutrient digestion and overall health. Several abiotic factors can modulate the gut microbiota community in fish, with dietary formulations having a distinct impact. Nevertheless, there is not a well-established correlation between diet, feed ingredients and gut microbiota in fish. It has been observed that the use of alternative feed ingredients alters gut microbiota diversity and structure. However, such impacts are not very clear with respect to fish performance and gut health.
Traditionally, fish nutritionists have used the phenotypic (i.e. growth, body length), and physiological (i.e. digestion, enzymatic activity, tissue biopsy) parameters as a benchmark to evaluate the quality of feed ingredients and diets. Studies on gut microbiota coming from terrestrial animals have proven that assessment of microbial communities in the gut could offer complementary information to such parameters, especially with regard to dietary studies. Nowadays, more studies are addressing the dietary effects on gut microbiota in aquatic animals; however, knowledge is still lagging compared to terrestrial animal and human studies, and especially in relation to alternative or novel feed ingredients.
Dietary shifts and certain dietary ingredients may alter the microbial interactions in the gut, as well as host-microbe interactions, with significant impacts on fish performance, nutrient utilization and gut health. Therefore, understanding such impacts, especially in relation to alternative feed ingredients and dietary formulations, are essential in order to evaluate their feasibility for aquafeeds. Overall, this Research Topic aims to gather information on the interaction between dietary formulations and feed ingredients with gut microbiota, and the impact on fish performance, nutrient utilization and feed efficiency, and overall fish gut health. Such information will shed light on how alterations in gut microbiota profiles due to different feed ingredient types and diets can be reflected in fish intestinal function, feed efficiency, growth performance and health status.
The gut microbiome has the potential to become a valuable measurement to assess fish performance, nutrient digestion and utilization, and gut health in relation to dietary formulations and inclusion of different feed ingredients. In this Research Topic, we welcome the submission of original research and review articles aimed at evaluating the interactions between feed ingredients, dietary formulations and gut microbiota, and their impact on fish performance, feed efficiency and health. More specifically, we invite submissions related, but not only limited, to:
- Impact of the use of novel or alternative feed ingredients on gut microbiota composition
- Interactions between digestion, gut microbiota composition and intestinal metabolites
- Feed ingredient type effects on gut health, immune response and the interaction with microbiota composition
- Functionality of host-microbe interactions in relation to digestion, growth and/or gut health
- Interaction between feed efficiency, nutrient utilization and microbiota composition
- Relationship between macronutrient and gut microbiota compositions
Keywords: Aquaculture, Fish nutrition, Alternative feed ingredients, Host-microbe interactions, Gut health
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.