Symbiosis

, Volume 71, Issue 2, pp 155–164 | Cite as

Diversity and composition of cultivable gut bacteria in an endemic island bird and its mainland sister species

  • Elisa Lobato
  • Margarida Geraldes
  • Martim Melo
  • Claire Doutrelant
  • Rita Covas
Article

Abstract

The study of island biodiversity has inspired many advances in evolutionary biology. However, whether patterns of microorganism diversity are influenced by insularity is poorly understood. In particular, microorganisms that live in symbiotic association, such as the microbiota that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of bigger animals, are subjected to demographic and coevolutionary processes that may add complexity to the common expectation of impoverished diversity on oceanic islands. Here, we explore this topic by studying the cultivable gut bacteria of two sister species of birds, from São Tomé island and nearby mainland Gabon, the endemic São Tomé thrush Turdus olivaceofuscus and the African thrush Turdus pelios. We found no differences in the diversity of cultivable gut bacteria between these thrushes, suggesting that, unlike what is commonly found for macrofauna, insularity might not represent a strong constraint for gut bacterial diversity. Although further research on complete gut bacterial communities and a broader range of species and areas is needed, our initial results suggest that the cultivable gut microbial community may bypass the diversity loss associated with island colonization. This could arise from intrinsic factors such as their large population sizes within hosts and low rates of extinction. Furthermore, as gut communities are composed mainly by mutualistic bacteria, diversifying selection (against an impoverished bacterial community), may counteract the diversity loss brought about by the stochastic and demographic effects of the founder process.

Keywords

Insularity Bird gut microbiota Microorganism biodiversity Oceanic islands Microbial ecology 

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elisa Lobato
    • 1
  • Margarida Geraldes
    • 2
  • Martim Melo
    • 1
    • 3
  • Claire Doutrelant
    • 4
  • Rita Covas
    • 1
    • 3
    • 5
  1. 1.CIBIO/InBio, Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos GenéticosUniversidade do PortoVairãoPortugal
  2. 2.INIAV, Instituto Nacional de Investigação Agrária e VeterináriaVairãoPortugal
  3. 3.Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology, DST-NRF Center of ExcellenceUniversity of Cape TownRondeboschSouth Africa
  4. 4.CEFE, Centre d’Ecologie Fonctionnelle et Evolutive, CNRS UMR 5175Montpellier cedex 5France
  5. 5.Biology Department, Science FacultyUniversity of PortoPortoPortugal

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