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Allometry and Ecology of the Bilaterian Gut Microbiome

Sherrill-Mix, S; McCormick, K; Lauder, A; Bailey, A; Zimmerman, L; Li, Y; Django, J-BN; ... Bushman, FD; + view all (2018) Allometry and Ecology of the Bilaterian Gut Microbiome. mBio , 9 (2) , Article e00319-18. 10.1128/mBio.00319-18. Green open access

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Classical ecology provides principles for construction and function of biological communities, but to what extent these apply to the animal-associated microbiota is just beginning to be assessed. Here, we investigated the influence of several well-known ecological principles on animal-associated microbiota by characterizing gut microbial specimens from bilaterally symmetrical animals (Bilateria) ranging from flies to whales. A rigorously vetted sample set containing 265 specimens from 64 species was assembled. Bacterial lineages were characterized by 16S rRNA gene sequencing. Previously published samples were also compared, allowing analysis of over 1,098 samples in total. A restricted number of bacterial phyla was found to account for the great majority of gut colonists. Gut microbial composition was associated with host phylogeny and diet. We identified numerous gut bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequences that diverged deeply from previously studied taxa, identifying opportunities to discover new bacterial types. The number of bacterial lineages per gut sample was positively associated with animal mass, paralleling known species-area relationships from island biogeography and implicating body size as a determinant of community stability and niche complexity. Samples from larger animals harbored greater numbers of anaerobic communities, specifying a mechanism for generating more-complex microbial environments. Predictions for species/abundance relationships from models of neutral colonization did not match the data set, pointing to alternative mechanisms such as selection of specific colonists by environmental niche. Taken together, the data suggest that niche complexity increases with gut size and that niche selection forces dominate gut community construction.

Type: Article
Title: Allometry and Ecology of the Bilaterian Gut Microbiome
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1128/mBio.00319-18
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1128/mBio.00319-18
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2018 Sherrill-Mix et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
Keywords: bacteria, bilateria, microbiome, microbiota, neutral model, species-area
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10052762
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