Background: Host-associated microbes comprise an integral part of animal digestive systems and these interactions have a long evolutionary history. It has been hypothesized that the gastrointestinal microbiome of humans and other non-human primates may have played significant roles in host evolution by facilitating a range of dietary adaptations. We have undertaken a comparative sequencing survey of the gastrointestinal microbiomes of several non-human primate species, with the goal of better understanding how these microbiomes relate to the evolution of non-human primate diversity. Here we present a comparative analysis of gastrointestinal microbial communities from three different species of Old World wild monkeys.
Methodology/principal findings: We analyzed fecal samples from three different wild non-human primate species (black-and-white colobus [Colubus guereza], red colobus [Piliocolobus tephrosceles], and red-tailed guenon [Cercopithecus ascanius]). Three samples from each species were subjected to small subunit rRNA tag pyrosequencing. Firmicutes comprised the vast majority of the phyla in each sample. Other phyla represented were Bacterioidetes, Proteobacteria, Spirochaetes, Actinobacteria, Verrucomicrobia, Lentisphaerae, Tenericutes, Planctomycetes, Fibrobacateres, and TM7. Bray-Curtis similarity analysis of these microbiomes indicated that microbial community composition within the same primate species are more similar to each other than to those of different primate species. Comparison of fecal microbiota from non-human primates with microbiota of human stool samples obtained in previous studies revealed that the gut microbiota of these primates are distinct and reflect host phylogeny.
Conclusion/significance: Our analysis provides evidence that the fecal microbiomes of wild primates co-vary with their hosts, and that this is manifested in higher intraspecies similarity among wild primate species, perhaps reflecting species specificity of the microbiome in addition to dietary influences. These results contribute to the limited body of primate microbiome studies and provide a framework for comparative microbiome analysis between human and non-human primates as well as a comparative evolutionary understanding of the human microbiome.