Impacts of radiation exposure on the bacterial and fungal microbiome of small mammals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Antwis, Rachael E.; Beresford, Nicholas A.; Jackson, Joseph A.; Fawkes, Ross; Barnett, Catherine L. ORCID:; Potter, Elaine; Walker, Lee ORCID:; Gaschak, Sergey; Wood, Michael D.. 2021 Impacts of radiation exposure on the bacterial and fungal microbiome of small mammals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Journal of Animal Ecology, 90 (9). 2172-2187.

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1. Environmental impacts of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident are much debated, but the effects of radiation on host microbiomes have received little attention to date. 2. We present the first analysis of small mammal gut microbiomes from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in relation to total absorbed dose rate, including both caecum and faeces samples. 3. We provide novel evidence that host species determines fungal community composition, and that associations between microbiome (both bacterial and fungal) communities and radiation exposure vary between host species. Using ambient versus total weighted absorbed dose rates in analyses produced different results, with the latter more robust for interpreting microbiome changes at the individual level. We found considerable variation between results for faecal and gut samples of bank voles, suggesting faecal samples are not an accurate indicator of gut composition. 4. Associations between radiation exposure and microbiome composition of gut samples were not robust against geographical variation, although we identified families of bacteria (Lachnospiraceae and Muribaculaceae) and fungi (Steccherinaceae and Strophariaceae) in the guts of bank voles that may serve as biomarkers of radiation exposure. 5. Further studies considering a range of small mammal species are needed to establish the robustness of these potential biomarkers.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Pollution (Science Area 2017-)
ISSN: 0021-8790
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via official URL link.
Additional Keywords: 90Sr, 137Cs, amplicon sequencing, dosimetry, mouse, Red Forest, vole, radioecology
NORA Subject Terms: Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 12 May 2021 14:56 +0 (UTC)

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