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Effects of the captive and wild environment on diversity of the gut microbiome of deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus)

The ISME Journal (2019) | Download Citation


Vertebrate gastrointestinal tracts have co-existed with microbes over millennia. These microbial communities provide their host with numerous benefits. However, the extent to which different environmental factors contribute to the assemblage of gut microbial communities is not fully understood. The purpose of this study was to determine how the external environment influences the development of gut microbiome communities (GMCs). Faecal samples were collected from deer mice (Peromyscus maniculatus) born and raised in captivity and the wild at approximately 3–5 weeks of age. Additional samples were collected 2 weeks later, with a subset of individuals being translocated between captive and wild environments. Microbial data were analysed using 16S rRNA next-generation Illumina HiSeq sequencing methods. GMCs of deer mice were more similar between neighbours who shared the same environment, regardless of where an individual was born, demonstrating that GMCs are significantly influenced by the surrounding environment and can rapidly change over time. Mice in natural environments contained more diverse GMCs with higher relative abundances of Ruminoccocaceae, Helicobacteraceae and Lachnospiraceae spp. Future studies should examine the fitness consequences associated with the presence/absence of microbes that are characteristic of GMCs of wild populations to gain a better understanding of environment–microbe–host evolutionary and ecological relationships.

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We thank A. Sawyer and S. Wilkes for their assistance in the field collecting data. This work has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Discovery Grant and the Canadian Foundation of Innovation (CFI)—Leaders Opportunity Grant to A.I.S.-H.

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  1. Department of Biology, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, P3E 2C6, Canada

    • Elliott Schmidt
    •  & Albrecht I. Schulte-Hostedde
  2. Vale Living with Lakes Centre, Laurentian University, Sudbury, ON, P3E 2C6, Canada

    • Nadia Mykytczuk


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Correspondence to Elliott Schmidt.

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