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The bamboo-eating giant panda harbors a carnivore-like gut microbiota, with excessive seasonal variations.

Xue Z, Zhang W, Wang L, Hou R, Zhang M, Fei L, Zhang X, Huang H, Bridgewater LC, Jiang Y, Jiang C, Zhao L, Pang X, Zhang Z - MBio (2015)

Bottom Line: Unlike other herbivores that have successfully evolved anatomically specialized digestive systems to efficiently deconstruct fibrous plant matter, the giant panda still retains a gastrointestinal tract typical of carnivores.We found that the giant panda gut microbiota is low in diversity and highly variable across seasons.It also shows an overall composition typical of bears and entirely differentiated from other herbivores, with low levels of putative cellulose-digesting bacteria.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.

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Inter- and intraindividual variations of the gut microbiota of the 33 giant pandas that were sampled in all three seasons. (A) Interindividual variations were determined by average weighted UniFrac distances between individuals in T1, T2, or T3, respectively, while intraindividual variations were determined by distances between paired T1 and T2, T2 and T3, and T1 and T3 samples, respectively. Mean values ± standard errors of the means are shown. *, P < 0.05; **, P < 0.01; ***, P < 0.001 (Student’s t test with 1,000 Monte Carlo permutations). (B) Trajectory of the gut microbiota structure of each giant panda individual across seasons. The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) scores of T1 samples were set to zero, and the relative scores of T2 and T3 samples corresponding to their paired T1 samples were plotted. The animal identifiers are shown. A, adult; J, juvenile; F, female; M, male.
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fig3: Inter- and intraindividual variations of the gut microbiota of the 33 giant pandas that were sampled in all three seasons. (A) Interindividual variations were determined by average weighted UniFrac distances between individuals in T1, T2, or T3, respectively, while intraindividual variations were determined by distances between paired T1 and T2, T2 and T3, and T1 and T3 samples, respectively. Mean values ± standard errors of the means are shown. *, P < 0.05; **, P < 0.01; ***, P < 0.001 (Student’s t test with 1,000 Monte Carlo permutations). (B) Trajectory of the gut microbiota structure of each giant panda individual across seasons. The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) scores of T1 samples were set to zero, and the relative scores of T2 and T3 samples corresponding to their paired T1 samples were plotted. The animal identifiers are shown. A, adult; J, juvenile; F, female; M, male.

Mentions: The remarkable changes in the diversity and composition of the giant panda gut microbiota across individuals and seasons led us to assess the extent of interindividual structural variations within each season and intraindividual variations across seasons. While the diversity was lower in T3 (Fig. 2C and D), the interindividual weighted UniFrac distances between different individuals increased significantly in this sampling season (Fig. 3A). This giant panda population also manifested dramatic intraindividual variations from T1/T2 to T3, which were significantly larger than that from T1 to T2. Notably, the intraindividual variations from T1/T2 to T3 were even higher than the interindividual variations within T1 and T2 (Fig. 3A). The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA)-based trajectory plot also revealed that the gut microbiota structure of each individual became more and more dissimilar over seasons (Fig. 3B). Moreover, such seasonal structural shifts seemed individual specific, resulting in a “radial” trajectory pattern (Fig. 3B). Such large interindividual and even larger intraindividual structural variations were also supported by the unweighted UniFrac distances, which concern only the occurrence of phylotypes rather than their abundance (see Fig. S3A and B in the supplemental material). These significant changes in the gut microbiota structure from T1 to T3 were also verified by permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA; P = 0.0001 for both the weighted and unweighted UniFrac distances) (30).


The bamboo-eating giant panda harbors a carnivore-like gut microbiota, with excessive seasonal variations.

Xue Z, Zhang W, Wang L, Hou R, Zhang M, Fei L, Zhang X, Huang H, Bridgewater LC, Jiang Y, Jiang C, Zhao L, Pang X, Zhang Z - MBio (2015)

Inter- and intraindividual variations of the gut microbiota of the 33 giant pandas that were sampled in all three seasons. (A) Interindividual variations were determined by average weighted UniFrac distances between individuals in T1, T2, or T3, respectively, while intraindividual variations were determined by distances between paired T1 and T2, T2 and T3, and T1 and T3 samples, respectively. Mean values ± standard errors of the means are shown. *, P < 0.05; **, P < 0.01; ***, P < 0.001 (Student’s t test with 1,000 Monte Carlo permutations). (B) Trajectory of the gut microbiota structure of each giant panda individual across seasons. The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) scores of T1 samples were set to zero, and the relative scores of T2 and T3 samples corresponding to their paired T1 samples were plotted. The animal identifiers are shown. A, adult; J, juvenile; F, female; M, male.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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fig3: Inter- and intraindividual variations of the gut microbiota of the 33 giant pandas that were sampled in all three seasons. (A) Interindividual variations were determined by average weighted UniFrac distances between individuals in T1, T2, or T3, respectively, while intraindividual variations were determined by distances between paired T1 and T2, T2 and T3, and T1 and T3 samples, respectively. Mean values ± standard errors of the means are shown. *, P < 0.05; **, P < 0.01; ***, P < 0.001 (Student’s t test with 1,000 Monte Carlo permutations). (B) Trajectory of the gut microbiota structure of each giant panda individual across seasons. The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA) scores of T1 samples were set to zero, and the relative scores of T2 and T3 samples corresponding to their paired T1 samples were plotted. The animal identifiers are shown. A, adult; J, juvenile; F, female; M, male.
Mentions: The remarkable changes in the diversity and composition of the giant panda gut microbiota across individuals and seasons led us to assess the extent of interindividual structural variations within each season and intraindividual variations across seasons. While the diversity was lower in T3 (Fig. 2C and D), the interindividual weighted UniFrac distances between different individuals increased significantly in this sampling season (Fig. 3A). This giant panda population also manifested dramatic intraindividual variations from T1/T2 to T3, which were significantly larger than that from T1 to T2. Notably, the intraindividual variations from T1/T2 to T3 were even higher than the interindividual variations within T1 and T2 (Fig. 3A). The principal coordinate analysis (PCoA)-based trajectory plot also revealed that the gut microbiota structure of each individual became more and more dissimilar over seasons (Fig. 3B). Moreover, such seasonal structural shifts seemed individual specific, resulting in a “radial” trajectory pattern (Fig. 3B). Such large interindividual and even larger intraindividual structural variations were also supported by the unweighted UniFrac distances, which concern only the occurrence of phylotypes rather than their abundance (see Fig. S3A and B in the supplemental material). These significant changes in the gut microbiota structure from T1 to T3 were also verified by permutational multivariate analysis of variance (PERMANOVA; P = 0.0001 for both the weighted and unweighted UniFrac distances) (30).

Bottom Line: Unlike other herbivores that have successfully evolved anatomically specialized digestive systems to efficiently deconstruct fibrous plant matter, the giant panda still retains a gastrointestinal tract typical of carnivores.We found that the giant panda gut microbiota is low in diversity and highly variable across seasons.It also shows an overall composition typical of bears and entirely differentiated from other herbivores, with low levels of putative cellulose-digesting bacteria.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: State Key Laboratory of Microbial Metabolism, School of Life Sciences and Biotechnology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, People's Republic of China.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus