Helminth burden and ecological factors associated with alterations in wild host gastrointestinal microbiota

Newbold, Lindsay K.; Burthe, Sarah J.; Oliver, Anna E.; Gweon, Hyun G.; Barnes, Christopher J.; Daunt, Francis; van der Gast, Christopher J.. 2017 Helminth burden and ecological factors associated with alterations in wild host gastrointestinal microbiota. ISME Journal, 11 (3). 663-675.

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Infection by gastrointestinal helminths of humans, livestock and wild animals is common, but the impact of such endoparasites on wild hosts and their gut microbiota represents an important overlooked component of population dynamics. Wild host gut microbiota and endoparasites occupy the same physical niche spaces with both affecting host nutrition and health. However, associations between the two are poorly understood. Here we used the commonly parasitized European shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis) as a model wild host. Forty live adults from the same colony were sampled. Endoscopy was employed to quantify helminth infection in situ. Microbiota from the significantly distinct proventriculus (site of infection), cloacal and faecal gastrointestinal tract microbiomes were characterised using 16S rRNA gene-targeted high-throughput sequencing. We found increasingly strong associations between helminth infection and microbiota composition progressing away from the site of infection, observing a pronounced dysbiosis in microbiota when samples were partitioned into high- and low-burden groups. We posit this dysbiosis is predominately explained by helminths inducing an anti-inflammatory environment in the proventriculus, diverting host immune responses away from themselves. This study, within live wild animals, provides a vital foundation to better understand the mechanisms that underpin the three-way relationship between helminths, microbiota and hosts.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Acreman
ISSN: 1751-7362
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: Isle of May Long-Term Study, IMLOTS
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Date made live: 30 Jan 2017 14:46 +0 (UTC)

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