• Effect of preservation method on spider monkey (Ateles geoffroyi) fecal microbiota over 8 weeks

      Hale, Vanessa L.; Tan, Chia L.; Knight, Rob; Amato, Katherine R. (2015)
      …Gut microbes play an important role in human and animal health, and gut microbiome analysis holds great potential for evaluating health in wildlife, as microbiota can be assessed from non-invasively collected fecal samples. However, many common fecal preservation protocols (e.g. freezing at ?80°C) are not suitable for field conditions, or have not been tested for long-term (greater than 2weeks) storage. In this study, we collected fresh fecal samples from captive spider monkeys (Ateles geoffroyi) at the Columbian Park Zoo (Lafayette, IN, USA)….
    • Effects of field conditions on fecal microbiota

      Hale, Vanessa L.; Tan, Chia L.; Niu, Kefeng; Yang, Yeqin; Cui, Duoying; Zhao, Hongxia; Knight, Rob; Amato, Katherine R. (2016)
      Gut microbiota can provide great insight into host health, and studies of the gut microbiota in wildlife are becoming more common. However, the effects of field conditions on gut microbial samples are unknown. This study addresses the following questions: 1) How do environmental factors such as sunlight and insect infestations affect fecal microbial DNA? 2) How does fecal microbial DNA change over time after defecation? 3) How does storage method affect microbial DNA? Fresh fecal samples were collected, pooled, and homogenized from a family group of 6 spider monkeys, Ateles geoffroyi....
    • Using the gut microbiota as a novel tool for examining colobine primate GI health

      Amato, Katherine R.; Metcalf, Jessica L.; Song, Se Jin; Hale, Vanessa L.; Clayton, Jonathan; Ackermann, Gail; Humphrey, Greg; Niu, Kefeng; Cui, Duoying; Zhao, Hongxia; et al. (2016)
      Primates of the Colobinae subfamily are highly folivorous. They possess a sacculated foregut and are believed to rely on a specialized gut microbiota to extract sufficient energy from their hard-to-digest diet. Although many colobines are endangered and would benefit from captive breeding programs, maintaining healthy captive populations of colobines can be difficult since they commonly suffer from morbidity and mortality due to gastrointestinal (GI) distress of unknown cause. While there is speculation that this GI distress may be associated with a dysbiosis of the gut microbiota, no study has directly examined the role of the gut microbiota in colobine GI health. In this study, we used high-throughput sequencing to examine the gut microbiota of three genera of colobines housed at the San Diego Zoo: doucs (Pygathrix) (N=7), colobus monkeys (Colobus) (N=4), and langurs (Trachypithecus) (N=5). Our data indicated that GI-healthy doucs, langurs, and colobus monkeys possess a distinct gut microbiota. In addition, GI-unhealthy doucs exhibited a different gut microbiota compared to GI-healthy individuals, including reduced relative abundances of anti-inflammatory Akkermansia. Finally, by comparing samples from wild and captive Asian colobines, we found that captive colobines generally exhibited higher relative abundances of potential pathogens such as Desulfovibrio and Methanobrevibacter compared to wild colobines, implying an increased risk of gut microbial dysbiosis. Together, these results suggest an association between the gut microbiota and GI illness of unknown cause in doucs. Further studies are necessary to corroborate these findings and determine cause-and-effect relationships. Additionally, we found minimal variation in the diversity and composition of the gut microbiota along the colobine GI tract, suggesting that fecal samples may be sufficient for describing the colobine gut microbiota. If these findings can be validated in wild individuals, it will facilitate the rapid expansion of colobine gut microbiome research.