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Coastal Sciences, Gulf Coast Research Laboratory


The microbiome plays an essential role in the health and onset of diseases in all animals, including humans. The microbiome has emerged as a central theme in environmental toxicology, as microbes interact with the host immune system in addition to its role in chemical detoxification. Pathophysiological changes in the gastrointestinal tissue caused by ingested chemicals, and metabolites generated from microbial biodegradation, can lead to systemic adverse effects. This critical review dissects what we know about the impacts of environmental contaminants on the microbiome of aquatic species, with special emphasis on the gut microbiome. We highlight some of the known major gut epithelium proteins in vertebrate hosts that are targets for chemical perturbation, proteins that also directly cross‐talk with the microbiome. These proteins may act as molecular initiators for altered gut function, and we propose a general framework for an adverse outcome pathway that considers gut dysbiosis as a major contributing factor to adverse apical endpoints. We present two case studies, nanomaterials and hydrocarbons with special emphasis on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, to illustrate how investigations into the microbiome can improve understanding of adverse outcomes. Lastly, we present strategies to functionally relate chemical‐induced gut dysbiosis with adverse outcomes, as this is required to demonstrate cause‐effect relationships. Further investigations into the toxicant‐microbiome relationship may prove to be a major breakthrough for improving animal and human health. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved

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Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry





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