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Access Type

WSU Access

Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type


Degree Name



Immunology and Microbiology

First Advisor

Jeffrey H. Withey


Zebrafish (Danio rerio) are an attractive model organism for a variety of scientific studies, including host-microbe interactions. Zebrafish contain a core (i.e., consistently detected) intestinal microbiome consisting primarily of Proteobacteria. Furthermore, this core intestinal microbiome is plastic, and can be significantly altered to due external factors. The organism is particularly useful for the study of aquatic microbes that can colonize vertebrate hosts, including Vibrio cholerae. As an intestinal pathogen, V. cholerae needs to colonize the intestine of an exposed host for any type of pathogenicity to occur. It is suspected that members of the resident intestinal microbial community need to be eliminated by V. cholerae in order for colonization, and subsequently disease, to occur. While numerous studies have explored various aspects of the pathogenic effects of V. cholerae on zebrafish and other model organisms, few, if any, have examined how a V. cholerae infection alters the resident intestinal community. In this study, 16S rRNA gene sequencing was utilized to investigate how various strains of V. cholerae alter the aforementioned microbial profiles following an infection. We found that V. cholerae infection and subsequent colonization induced significant changes in the zebrafish intestinal microbiome. Additional salient differences to the microbial profile were observed based on the particular strain of V. cholerae utilized for challenging the zebrafish hosts. We conclude that V. cholerae causes significant modulation to the zebrafish intestinal microbiome in order for infection and subsequent disease to occur.

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