Diet-Dependent Modular Dynamic Interactions of the Equine Cecal Microbiota

Microbes Environ. 2016 Dec 23;31(4):378-386. doi: 10.1264/jsme2.ME16061. Epub 2016 Oct 21.


Knowledge on dynamic interactions in microbiota is pivotal for understanding the role of bacteria in the gut. We herein present comprehensive dynamic models of the horse cecal microbiota, which include short-chained fatty acids, carbohydrate metabolic networks, and taxonomy. Dynamic models were derived from time-series data in a crossover experiment in which four cecum-cannulated horses were fed a starch-rich diet of hay supplemented with barley (starch intake 2 g kg-1 body weight per day) and a fiber-rich diet of only hay. Cecal contents were sampled via the cannula each h for 24 h for both diets. We observed marked differences in the microbial dynamic interaction patterns for Fibrobacter succinogenes, Lachnospiraceae, Streptococcus, Treponema, Anaerostipes, and Anaerovibrio between the two diet groups. Fluctuations and microbiota interactions were the most pronounced for the starch rich diet, with Streptococcus spp. and Anaerovibrio spp. showing the largest fluctuations. Shotgun metagenome sequencing revealed that diet differences may be explained by modular switches in metabolic cross-feeding between microbial consortia in which fermentation is linked to sugar alcohols and amino sugars for the starch-rich diet and monosaccharides for the fiber-rich diet. In conclusion, diet may not only affect the composition of the cecal microbiota, but also dynamic interactions and metabolic cross-feeding.

MeSH terms

  • Animal Feed*
  • Animals
  • Bacteria / classification*
  • Bacteria / isolation & purification*
  • Carbohydrates / analysis
  • Cecum / microbiology*
  • Diet / methods*
  • Fatty Acids / analysis
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Horses


  • Carbohydrates
  • Fatty Acids