BACKGROUND: Distinct sets of microbes contribute to colorectal cancer (CRC) initiation and progression. Some occur due to the evolving intestinal environment but may not contribute to disease. In contrast, others may play an important role at particular times during the tumorigenic process. Here, we describe changes in the microbiota and host over the course of azoxymethane (AOM)-induced tumorigenesis.METHODS: Mice were administered AOM or PBS and were euthanised 8, 12, 24 and 48 weeks later. Samples were analysed using 16S rRNA gene sequencing, UPLC-MS and qRT-PCR.RESULTS: The microbiota and bile acid profile showed distinct changes at each timepoint. The inflammatory response became apparent at weeks 12 and 24. Moreover, significant correlations between individual taxa, cytokines and bile acids were detected. One co-abundance group (CAG) differed significantly between PBS- and AOM-treated mice at week 24. Correlation analysis also revealed significant associations between CAGs, bile acids and the bile acid transporter, ASBT. Aberrant crypt foci and adenomas were first detectable at weeks 24 and 48, respectively.CONCLUSION: The observed changes precede host hyperplastic transformation and may represent early therapeutic targets for the prevention or management of CRC at specific timepoints in the tumorigenic process.