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Microbial communities exhibit host species distinguishability and phylosymbiosis along the length of the gastrointestinal tract

Kohl, Kevin D., Dearing, M. Denise, Bordenstein, Seth R.
Molecular ecology 2018 v.27 no.8 pp. 1874-1883
Oscillospira, Ruminococcus, anti-infective agents, bacterial communities, colon, community structure, feces, genes, hindgut, hosts, intestinal microorganisms, oxygen, phylogeny, ribosomal RNA, rodents, stochastic processes, stomach
Host‐associated microbial communities consist of stable and transient members that can assemble through purely stochastic processes associated with the environment or by interactions with the host. Phylosymbiosis predicts that if host–microbiota interactions impact assembly patterns, then one conceivable outcome is concordance between host evolutionary histories (phylogeny) and the ecological similarities in microbial community structures (microbiota dendrogram). This assembly pattern has been demonstrated in several clades of animal hosts in laboratory and natural populations, but in vertebrates, it has only been investigated using samples from faeces or the distal colon. Here, we collected the contents of five gut regions from seven rodent species and inventoried the bacterial communities by sequencing the 16S rRNA gene. We investigated how community structures varied across gut regions and whether the pattern of phylosymbiosis was present along the length of the gut. Gut communities varied by host species and gut region, with Oscillospira and Ruminococcus being more abundant in the stomach and hindgut regions. Gut microbial communities were highly distinguishable by host species across all gut regions, with the strength of the discrimination increasing along the length of the gut. Last, the pattern of phylosymbiosis was found in all five gut regions, as well as faeces. Aspects of the gut environment, such as oxygen levels, production of antimicrobials or other factors, may shift microbial communities across gut regions. However, regardless of these differences, host species maintain distinguishable, phylosymbiotic assemblages of microbes that may have functional impacts for the host.