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Interspecific variations in the gastrointestinal microbiota in penguins

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journal contribution
posted on 2013-02-01, 00:00 authored by Meagan Dewar, John ArnouldJohn Arnould, P Dann, P Trathan, R Groscolas, Stuart Smith
Despite the enormous amount of data available on the importance of the gastrointestinal (GI) microbiota in vertebrate (especially mammals), information on the GI microbiota of seabirds remains incomplete. As with many seabirds, penguins have a unique digestive physiology that enables them to store large reserves of adipose tissue, protein, and lipids. This study used quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) and 16S rRNA gene pyrosequencing to characterize the interspecific variations of the GI microbiota of four penguin species: the king, gentoo, macaroni, and little penguin. The qPCR results indicated that there were significant differences in the abundance of the major phyla Firmicutes, Bacteroides, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria. A total of 132,340, 18,336, 6324, and 4826 near full-length 16S rRNA gene sequences were amplified from fecal samples collected from king, gentoo, macaroni, and little penguins, respectively. A total of 13 phyla were identified with Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Fusobacteria dominating the composition; however, there were major differences in the relative abundance of the phyla. In addition, this study documented the presence of known human pathogens, such as Campylobacter, Helicobacter, Prevotella, Veillonella, Erysipelotrichaceae, Neisseria, and Mycoplasma. However, their role in disease in penguins remains unknown. To our knowledge, this is the first study to provide an in-depth investigation of the GI microbiota of penguins.

History

Journal

MicrobiologyOpen

Volume

2

Issue

1

Pagination

195 - 204

Publisher

John Wiley & Sons

Location

West Sussex, England

ISSN

2045-8827

Language

eng

Notes

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal; C Journal article

Copyright notice

2013, The Authors