Gut microbial diversity and stabilizing functions enhance the plateau adaptability of Tibetan wild ass (Equus kiang)

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  • Published: 2020-04-15
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Interactions between gut microbiota not only regulate physical health, but also form a vital bridge between the environment and the host, thus helping the host to better adapt to the environment. The improvement of modern molecular sequencing techniques enables in‐depth investigations of the gut microbiota of vertebrate herbivores without harming them.

Researchers compared the diversity and function of the microbiota by sequencing the 16S rRNA V4‐V5 region of the gut microbiota of both the captive and wild kiang in winter and summer. The reasons for observed differences were discussed. The results showed that the dominant phyla of the kiang were Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, and the structure and abundance of the gut microbiota differed significantly between seasons and environments. However, the relatively stable function of the gut microbiota supplies the host with increased adaptability to the environment. The diversity of the intestinal flora of the kiang is relatively low in captivity, which increases their risk to catch diseases to some extent. Therefore, importance should be attached to the impact of captivity on wildlife.

△Figure: Relative abundance column diagram of microbiota functions based on the KEGG database. (a) Microbiota functions are shown on the first level; (b) top‐ten microbiota functions are shown on the second level. SC, summer captive group; SW, summer wild group; WC, winter captive group; WW, winter wild group


The study was published in Microbiology Open entitled "Gut Microbial Diversity and Stabilizing Functions Enhance the Plateau Adaptability of Tibetan wild ass (Equus kiang) (Equus kiang)" . Phd student GAO Hongmei at University of Chinese Academy of Sciences is the first author. Dr. ZHANG Tong is the corresponding author, who is also a doctoral supervisor at University of Chinese Academy of Sciences. The study was funded by Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences; Qinghai Key R&D and Transformation Program; and National Key R&D Program of China.