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Gut microbiota adaptation to high altitude in indigenous animals

Ma, Yan, Ma, Shuang, Chang, Lan, Wang, Haijie, Ga, Qin, Ma, Lan, Bai, Zhenzhong, Shen, Yongyi, Ge, Ri-Li
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2019 v.516 no.1 pp. 120-126
Bacteroidetes, Clostridium, DNA, DNA repair, Equus kiang, Oscillospira, Pantholops hodgsonii, Ruminococcus, altitude, coevolution, databases, digestive system, feces, genes, glycolysis, herbivores, hosts, intestinal microorganisms, metagenomics, ribosomal RNA, sequence analysis, sheep, China
Limited is known about role of gut microbiota in the metabolism of high-altitude-living herbivores, and potential co-evolution between gut microbiome and host genome during high altitude adaptation were not fully understood. Here, DNA from faecal samples was used to investigate the gut microbial compositions and diversity in three host species endemic to the high-altitude Tibetan plateau, the Tibetan antelope (Pantholops hodgsonii, T-antelope, 4300 m) and the Tibetan wild ass (Equus kiang, T-ass, 4300 m), and in the Tibetan sheep (Ovis aries, T-sheep) collected from two different altitudes (T-sheep [k], 4300 m and T-sheep [l] 3000 m). Ordinary sheep (O. aries, sheep) from low altitudes (1800 m) were used for comparison. 16S rRNA gene sequencing revealed that the genera Ruminococcus (22.78%), Oscillospira (20.00%), and Clostridium (10.00%) were common taxa in all high-altitude species (T-antelope, T-ass and T-sheep [k]). Ruminococcaceae, Clostridiales, Clostridia, and Firmicutes showed greater enrichment in the T-antelopes’ gut microbiota than in the microbiota of lower-altitude sheep (T-sheep [l] and sheep). The T-antelopes’ gut microbiota displayed a higher ratio of Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes than lower-altitude sheep (T-sheep [l] and sheep). A functional capacity analysis of the paired-end metagenomics sequences of the gut metagenomes of high-altitude T-antelopes and T-sheep annotated over 80% of the unique genes to metabolism (especially carbohydrate metabolism pathways) and genetic information processing in the Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes database. The gut metagenome of the T-antelope may have co-evolved with the host genomes (e.g. glycolysis and DNA repair). The higher-altitude herbivores tended to have similar gut microbial compositions, with similar functional capacities, suggesting that their gut microbiota could involved in their high-altitude adaptation.