Background: Gastrointestinal microbiota play an important role in animal host immunity, nutrient metabolism, and energy acquisition, and have therefore drawn increasing attentions. This study compared the diversity of the gut microbiota of both wild and captive bharals, which is an ungulate herbivore of caprid from the Qinghai-Tibet plateau.
Results: The sequencing of the V4-V5 region of the 16S rRNA gene via high-throughput sequencing technology showed that the dominant bacterial phyla are Firmicutes and Bacteroides both in wild and captive bharals. However, their abundance differed significantly between groups. Firmicutes were significantly higher in wild bharals, while Bacteroides were significantly higher in captive bharals. Different diets are likely a key influencing factor in the diversity and abundance of gut microbiota in bharals.
Conclusions: Changes in diets affect the diversity of gut microbiota and the relative abundance of pathogenic bacteria, increasing the risk of diseases outbreak in captive bharals. The results of this study suggest that the structure and function of the gut microbiota should be regulated via dietary intervention, accurate provision of an individualized diet, and optimization of the functional network of gut microbiota and its interaction with the host. This will improve the ex situ protection of wild animals.
Keywords: 16S rRNA gene; Bharal (Pseudois nayaur); Gut microbiota; Health assessment; High-throughput sequence analysis.