Food Science and Technology Department


Department of Food Science and Technology: Faculty Publications

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Wills, M.O.; Shields-Cutler, R.R.; Brunmeier, E.;Weissenborn, M.; Murphy, T.; Knights, D.; Johnson, T.J.; Clayton, J.B. Host Species and Captivity Distinguish the Microbiome Compositions of a Diverse Zoo-Resident Non-Human Primate Population. Diversity 2022, 14, 715. d14090715


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Vast numbers of microorganisms inhabit the mammalian gastrointestinal tract in a complex community referred to as the gut microbiome. An individual’s microbiome may be impacted by genetics, diet, and various environmental factors, and has been associated with many health states and diseases, though specific explanations are lacking. While these communities are well-studied in human populations, non-human primates (NHPs), in particular zoo-resident or captive NHPs, offer distinct advantages to increasing our understanding of factors that influence gut microbiome composition. Here, we characterize the gut microbiome composition of a phylogenetically diverse cohort of NHPs residing in the same urban zoo. We show that despite overlapping and controlled environmental contexts, gut microbiomes are still distinguished between NHP host species. However, when comparing the zoo cohort to wild NHPs, we show that captivity status strongly distinguishes zoo-resident NHPs from their wild counterparts, regardless of host phylogeny. Microbial orders unique to captive NHPs include taxa commonly present in human gut microbiomes. Together, these results demonstrate that differences between NHP species are strongly associated with gut microbiome composition and diversity, suggesting that species-specific approaches should be considered when investigating environmental factors’ influence on gut microbiome composition.

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