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Article

Host Identity and Geographic Location Significantly Affect Gastrointestinal Microbial Richness and Diversity in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) under Human Care

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Department of Nutrition, Denver Zoo, Denver, CO 80205, USA
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Department of Animal Science, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Department of Biology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182, USA
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Department of Food Science and Technology, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
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Nebraska Food for Health Center, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
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Primate Microbiome Project, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68588, USA
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Department of Animal Welfare and Research, Denver Zoo, Denver, CO 80205, USA
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Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27607, USA
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Department of Applied Ecology, NC State University, Raleigh, NC 27695, USA
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Hanes Veterinary Medical Center, North Carolina Zoo, Asheboro, NC 27205, USA
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College of Information Science and Technology, University of Nebraska at Omaha, Omaha, NE 68182, USA
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College of Life Sciences, Nanjing Normal University, Nanjing 210023, China
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Academic Editor: Emiliano Mori
Animals 2021, 11(12), 3399; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123399
Received: 19 September 2021 / Revised: 13 November 2021 / Accepted: 23 November 2021 / Published: 28 November 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biotechnologies for the Advancement of Wildlife Conservation)
Since the advent of microbiome research, this field has seen an explosion of both techniques and subfields. Researchers have aimed not only to classify microbiome membership and diversity among varying hosts, but to also identify and understand new and novel microbial lineages. This wealth of knowledge continues to grow, and with it the potential to use microbiome databases as diagnostic tools. This diagnostic application is of great importance and interest in zoological settings, as it may provide a non-invasive assessment of animal health. However, before this tool can be utilized in zoos, more data are needed to assess the extent of microbial variation characteristics to each host species to know what may be problematic versus normal. The aim of this research was to characterize variation of the microbiome at the individual level within managed populations of western lowland gorillas in three zoological institutions.
The last few decades have seen an outpouring of gastrointestinal (GI) microbiome studies across diverse host species. Studies have ranged from assessments of GI microbial richness and diversity to classification of novel microbial lineages. Assessments of the “normal” state of the GI microbiome composition across multiple host species has gained increasing importance for distinguishing healthy versus diseased states. This study aimed to determine baselines and trends over time to establish “typical” patterns of GI microbial richness and diversity, as well as inter-individual variation, in three populations of western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) under human care at three zoological institutions in North America. Fecal samples were collected from 19 western lowland gorillas every two weeks for seven months (n = 248). Host identity and host institution significantly affected GI microbiome community composition (p < 0.05), although host identity had the most consistent and significant effect on richness (p = 0.03) and Shannon diversity (p = 0.004) across institutions. Significant changes in microbial abundance over time were observed only at Denver Zoo (p < 0.05). Our results suggest that individuality contributes to most of the observed GI microbiome variation in the study populations. Our results also showed no significant changes in any individual’s microbial richness or Shannon diversity during the 7-month study period. While some microbial taxa (Prevotella, Prevotellaceae and Ruminococcaceae) were detected in all gorillas at varying levels, determining individual baselines for microbial composition comparisons may be the most useful diagnostic tool for optimizing non-human primate health under human care. View Full-Text
Keywords: gastrointestinal (GIT) microbiome; feces; human managed populations; western lowland gorilla gastrointestinal (GIT) microbiome; feces; human managed populations; western lowland gorilla
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MDPI and ACS Style

Eschweiler, K.; Clayton, J.B.; Moresco, A.; McKenney, E.A.; Minter, L.J.; Suhr Van Haute, M.J.; Gasper, W.; Hayer, S.S.; Zhu, L.; Cooper, K.; Ange-van Heugten, K. Host Identity and Geographic Location Significantly Affect Gastrointestinal Microbial Richness and Diversity in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) under Human Care. Animals 2021, 11, 3399. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123399

AMA Style

Eschweiler K, Clayton JB, Moresco A, McKenney EA, Minter LJ, Suhr Van Haute MJ, Gasper W, Hayer SS, Zhu L, Cooper K, Ange-van Heugten K. Host Identity and Geographic Location Significantly Affect Gastrointestinal Microbial Richness and Diversity in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) under Human Care. Animals. 2021; 11(12):3399. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123399

Chicago/Turabian Style

Eschweiler, Katrina, Jonathan B. Clayton, Anneke Moresco, Erin A. McKenney, Larry J. Minter, Mallory J. Suhr Van Haute, William Gasper, Shivdeep S. Hayer, Lifeng Zhu, Kathryn Cooper, and Kimberly Ange-van Heugten. 2021. "Host Identity and Geographic Location Significantly Affect Gastrointestinal Microbial Richness and Diversity in Western Lowland Gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla) under Human Care" Animals 11, no. 12: 3399. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani11123399

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