Gut bacteria of phytophagous and omnivorous marine invertebrates often possess alginate lyases (ALGs), which are key enzymes for utilizing macroalgae as carbon neutral biomass. We hypothesized that the exclusive feeding of a target alga to marine invertebrates would shift the gut bacterial diversity suitable for degrading the algal components. To test this hypothesis, we reared sea hare (Dolabella auricularia) and sea snail (Batillus cornutus) for two to four weeks with exclusive feeding of a brown alga (Ecklonia cava). Pyrosequencing analysis of the gut bacterial 16S rRNA genes revealed shifts in the gut microbiota after rearing, mainly due to a decrease in the variety of bacterial members. Significant increases in six and four 16S rRNA gene phylotypes were observed in the reared sea hares and sea snails, respectively, and some of them were phylogenetically close to known alginate-degrading bacteria. Clone library analysis of PL7 family ALG genes using newly designed degenerate primer sets detected a total of 50 ALG gene phylotypes based on 90% amino acid identity. The number of ALG gene phylotypes increased in the reared sea hare but decreased in reared sea snail samples, and no phylotype was shared between them. Out of the 50 phylotypes, 15 were detected only after the feeding procedure. Thus, controlled feeding strategy may be valid and useful for the efficient screening of genes suitable for target alga fermentation.
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