Xylooligosaccharides (XOSs) are increasingly being explored as prebiotics in fish diets; however, their effects and modes of action have not been well evaluated. Reports have shown that dietary XOS has the potential to improve the proliferation of beneficial gut microbes, and their metabolites, and enhance disease resistance in several fish species. In contrast, other studies report no substantial changes in immune and growth parameters compared to control groups. Like all prebiotics, the mode of action of XOS is based on their selective stimulation of beneficial gut microbiota, which will outcompete and prevent pathogen proliferation in the gut, and produce metabolites that modulate host immune responses. The reports of improved growth performance of XOS fed fish may be due improved intestinal microbiome, enhanced glycolysis activity and elevated gastrointestinal enzymatic activities. Dietary XOSs have different effects on fish performance depending on the fish species and the structure of XOSs (degree of XOS polymerization and substitution). Nevertheless, further research is essential to determine the optimal dosage, degree of polymerization, and substitution levels required to improve each fish species' gut health and growth performance. This review highlights the prebiotic effects of XOSs, their mechanism of action, and knowledge gaps.



Publication Date


Publication Title

Annals of Animal Science



Embargo Period


Organisational Unit

School of Biological and Marine Sciences