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Publication type: Journal Article
Document type: Full Paper

Year: 2019

Author(s): Stalder, GL; Pinior, B; Zwirzitz, B; Loncaric, I; Jakupović, D; Vetter, SG; Smith, S; Posautz, A; Hoelzl, F; Wagner, M; Hoffmann, D; Kübber-Heiss, A; Mann, E

Title: Gut microbiota of the European Brown Hare (Lepus europaeus).

Source: Sci Rep. 2019; 9(1):2738

Authors Vetmeduni Vienna:

Conrady Beate
Hölzl Franz
Kübber-Heiss Anna
Loncaric Igor
Mann-Selberherr Evelyne
Posautz Annika
Smith Steven
Stalder Gabrielle
Vetter Sebastian
Wagner Martin
Zwirzitz Benjamin

Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology, Conservation Medicine
Institute of Microbiology
Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology
Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health, Unit of Food Microbiology
Institute of Food Safety, Food Technology and Veterinary Public Health, Unit of Veterinary Public Health and Epidemiology

Project(s): Austrian Competence Centre for Feed and Food Quality, Safety and Innovation

Diseases of the gastrointestinal tract due to changes in the bacterial flora have been described with increasing incidence in the European brown hare. Despite extensive demographic and phylogeographic research, little is known about the composition of its gut microbiota and how it might vary based on potential environmental or host factors. We analysed the intestinal and faecal microbiota of 3 hare populations by Illumina MiSeq 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. The phyla and OTU abundance composition differed significantly between intestinal and faecal samples (PERMANOVA: P = 0.002 and P = 0.031, respectively), but in both sample types Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes dominated the microbial community composition (45.51% and 19.30% relative abundance). Intestinal samples contained an enrichment of Proteobacteria compared with faecal samples (15.71-fold change, P < 0.001). At OTU level, a significant enrichment with best BLAST hits to the Escherichia-Shigella group, Eubacterium limosum, Sphingomonas kyeonggiensis, Flintibacter butyricus and Blautia faecis were detected in intestinal samples (P < 0.05). In our statistical model, geographic location and possibly associated environmental factors had a greater impact on the microbiota composition than host factors. Population had a significant effect on the composition of abundant intestinal and faecal OTUs, and on the abundance of potential pathogenic bacteria of the family Enterobacteriaceae, regularly associated with intestinal dysbiosis in hares, in faecal samples. Our study is the first to describe the microbiota in brown hares and provides a foundation to generate hypothesis aiming to test the role of gut health in population fluctuations of the species.

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