Penn Study Reveals How Fish Control Microbes Through Their Gills

2016-02-24T17:59:52+00:00 February 24, 2016|
Their mucosal surfaces — their skin, digestive tract and gills — are in constant contact with water, including any pathogens that the water may contain.

(Click to enlarge) Their mucosal surfaces — their skin, digestive tract and gills — are in constant contact with water, including any pathogens that the water may contain. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Oriol Sunyer, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine, has described fish as “an open gut swimming.”

(From the University of Pennsylvania/by Katherine Unger Baillie) — Their mucosal surfaces — their skin, digestive tract and gills — are in constant contact with water, including any pathogens that the water may contain.

In aquaculture facilities, this exposure is a risk, as diseases can quickly tear through populations. In hopes of improving vaccines that keep fish healthy, researchers are therefore very interested in learning how fish detect and respond to pathogens through their mucosal surfaces. There is also great interest in learning how fish control the community of “friendly” microbes, the microbiota, that dwell in and on their respiratory surfaces.

In a new study published in the journal Nature Communications, Sunyer and colleagues made headway in this understanding. Their work reveals that fish induce production of a particular antibody in their gills in response to pathogen exposure. In addition, the researchers found that the gills’ microbiota is coated with this same antibody, an immunoglobulin called IgT, the function of which was first discovered by Sunyer’s lab in 2010. Prior to this study, it was thought that only mammals had such a refined local mucosal immune response.

Read the full article here: https://news.upenn.edu/news/penn-study-reveals-how-fish-control-microbes-through-their-gills