Diversity and compositional changes in the gut microbiota of wild and captive vertebrates: a meta-analysis

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The gut microbiota is recognised as an essential asset for the normal functioning of animal biology. When wild animals are moved into captivity, the modified environmental pressures are expected to rewire the gut microbiota, yet whether this transition follows similar patterns across vertebrates is still unresolved due to the absence of systematic multi-species analyses. We performed a meta-analysis of gut microbiota profiles of 322 captive and 322 wild specimens from 24 vertebrate species. Our analyses yielded no overall pattern of diversity and compositional variation between wild and captive vertebrates, but a heterogeneous landscape of responses, which differed depending on the components of diversity considered. Captive populations showed enrichment patterns of human-associated microorganisms, and the minimal host phylogenetic signal suggests that changes between wild and captive populations are mainly driven by case-specific captivity conditions. Finally, we show that microbiota differences between wild and captive populations can impact evolutionary and ecological inferences that rely on hierarchical clustering-based comparative analyses of gut microbial communities across species.

Original languageEnglish
Article number22660
JournalScientific Reports
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2021

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© 2021, The Author(s).

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