Baleen whales host a unique gut microbiome with similarities to both carnivores and herbivores

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Baleen whales host a unique gut microbiome with similarities to both carnivores and herbivores

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Title: Baleen whales host a unique gut microbiome with similarities to both carnivores and herbivores
Author: Sanders, Jon G.; Beichman, Annabel C.; Roman, Joe; Scott, Jarrod J.; Emerson, David; McCarthy, James J.; Girguis, Peter R.

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Citation: Sanders, Jon G., Annabel C. Beichman, Joe Roman, Jarrod J. Scott, David Emerson, James J. McCarthy, and Peter R. Girguis. 2015. “Baleen whales host a unique gut microbiome with similarities to both carnivores and herbivores.” Nature Communications 6 (1): 8285. doi:10.1038/ncomms9285. http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ncomms9285.
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Abstract: Mammals host gut microbiomes of immense physiological consequence, but the determinants of diversity in these communities remain poorly understood. Diet appears to be the dominant factor, but host phylogeny also seems to be an important, if unpredictable, correlate. Here we show that baleen whales, which prey on animals (fish and crustaceans), harbor unique gut microbiomes with surprising parallels in functional capacity and higher level taxonomy to those of terrestrial herbivores. These similarities likely reflect a shared role for fermentative metabolisms despite a shift in primary carbon sources from plant-derived to animal-derived polysaccharides, such as chitin. In contrast, protein catabolism and essential amino acid synthesis pathways in baleen whale microbiomes more closely resemble those of terrestrial carnivores. Our results demonstrate that functional attributes of the microbiome can vary independently even given an animal-derived diet, illustrating how diet and evolutionary history combine to shape microbial diversity in the mammalian gut.
Published Version: doi:10.1038/ncomms9285
Other Sources: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4595633/pdf/
Terms of Use: This article is made available under the terms and conditions applicable to Other Posted Material, as set forth at http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:dash.current.terms-of-use#LAA
Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:23473841
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