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Seasonal diets overwhelm host species in shaping the gut microbiota of Yak and Tibetan sheep

By Xiaojuan Wei, Fusheng Cheng, Hongmei Shi, Xuzheng Zhou, Bing Li, Ling Wang, Weiwei Wang, Jiyu Zhang

Posted 29 Nov 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/481374

Host genetics and environmental factors can both shaping composition of gut microbiota, yet which factors are more important is still under debating. Yak (Bos grunniens) and Tibetan sheep (Ovis aries) are very different from the size and genetics. Nomadic Tibetan people keep them as main livestock and feeding them with same grazing systems, which provide a good opportunity to study the effects of diet and host species on gut microbiome. We collected fecal samples from yaks and Tibetan sheeps at different seasons when they were feed with different diets. Illumina data showed that major bacterial phyla of both animals are Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes, which agree with the previous reports. And the season effect had a higher impact on the gut microbiota than that of host species, though the animals are taxonomically distinguished each other at subfamily level. Since that the animal grazing differently at different seasons, this study indicated that diet can trump the host genetics even at higher taxonomic level. This finding provides a cautionary note for the researchers to link host genetics to the composition and function of the gut microbiota.

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