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Front. Microbiol. | doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2018.01674

High-throughput analysis reveals seasonal variation of the gut microbiota composition within forest musk deer (Moschus berezovskii)

 Xiaolong Hu1, 2*, Gang Liu3, Yimeng Li2, Yuting Wei1, 2, Shaobi Lin4,  Shuqiang Liu2, Yunlin Zheng1* and Defu Hu2*
  • 1College of Animal Science and Technology, Jiangxi Agricultural University, China
  • 2College of Nature Conservation, Beijing Forestry University, China
  • 3Institute of Wetland Research, Chinese Academy of Forestry, China
  • 4Zhangzhou Pien Tze Huang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd, China

The gut microbiota plays a key role in the nutritional ecology of ruminants, and host diet has a significant effect on these microbial communities. Longitudinal studies assessing variation of seasonal microbiota in animals can provide a comparative context for interpreting the adaptive significance of such changes. However, few studies have investigated the effects of seasonally-related dietary shifts on the gut microbial communities of endangered forest musk deer (FMD), and the national breeding programs need this information to promote the growth of captive populations. The present study applied bacterial 16S rRNA genes based on high-throughput sequencing to profile the fecal microbial communities of FMD across four seasons. Microbial diversity was higher in seasons with dry leaf diets (winter and spring) compared to seasons with fresh leaf diets (summer and autumn). The dominant microbial phyla were Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes, and the core bacterial taxa also comprised mostly (94.40% of shared OTUs) Firmicutes (37 taxa) and Bacteroidetes (6 taxa), which were relatively stable across different seasons. The Firmicutes-Bacteroidetes ratio declined in seasons with fresh leaf diets relative to seasons with dry leaf diets, and the dominant genera among the four seasons showed no significant variation in abundance. This work explores the seasonal variation in the microbial communities of FMD for the first time, and reveals how gut microbial community dynamics vary seasonally in accordance with differences in dietary plants (fresh and dry leaf). These results indicate that the annual cyclic reconfiguration of FMD gut microbiota could be associated with shifts in dietary nutrients, which is important information to inform captive FMD management.

Keywords: Bacterial ecology, symbioses, Diet, Seasonal variation, Moschus berezovskii.

Received: 24 Apr 2018; Accepted: 04 Jul 2018.

Edited by:

David W. Waite, University of Auckland, New Zealand

Reviewed by:

Suzanne L. Ishaq, University of Oregon, United States
Zhi P. Li, Institute of Special Animal and Plant Sciences (CAAS), China  

Copyright: © 2018 Hu, Liu, Li, Wei, Lin, Liu, Zheng and Hu. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence:
PhD. Xiaolong Hu, Jiangxi Agricultural University, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanchang, China,
Prof. Yunlin Zheng, Jiangxi Agricultural University, College of Animal Science and Technology, Nanchang, China,
Prof. Defu Hu, Beijing Forestry University, College of Nature Conservation, Beijing, China,