Hibernation represents a state of fasting because hibernators cease eating in the torpid periods. Therefore, food deprivation during hibernation is expected to modify the gut microbiota of host. However, there are few reports of gut microbiota in food-storing hibernators that feed during the interbout arousals. Here we collected fecal samples of Siberian chipmunk T. sibiricus to character and examine changes in the gut microbiota at various stages relative to hibernation: pre-hibernation, early-hibernation, mid-hibernation, late-hibernation, and post-hibernation. Compared to the pre-hibernation state, alpha-diversity of gut microbiota was significantly increased during the interbout arousal periods. In addition, beta-diversity of the fecal communities from pre-hibernation and interbout arousal periods grouped together, and post-hibernation gut microbiota resembled the counterpart at late-hibernation. Hibernation significantly decreased the relative abundance of Firmicutes but increased Bacteroidetes, reflecting a shift of microbiota toward taxa in favor of host-derived substrates. The increased abundance of Ruminococcaceae_UCG-014, Lactobacillus, and Christensenellaceae_R-7_group in gut microbiota may help the chipmunks reduce intestinal inflammation and then maintain healthy bowel during hibernation. KEGG pathway indicated that hibernation altered the metabolic function of gut microflora of T. sibiricus. Our study provides evidence that the gut microbiota of food-storing hibernators, despite feeding during the interbout arousals, shows similar response to hibernation that has well documented in fat-storing counterparts, suggesting the potential for a core gut microbiota during hibernation of mammals. Importantly, these results will broaden our understanding of the effects of hibernation on gut microbiota of mammal hibernators.
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Sequence data that support the findings of this study have been deposited in the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) with the Sequence Read Archive (SRA) accession number PRJNA760982 (72 data: include triplicate of pre-hibernation, early-hibernation, mid-hibernation, late-hibernation, and post-arousal).
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Funding for this study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant Nos. 32070447, 41807053 and 31760156) and Youth Talent Introduction and Education Program of Shandong Province (Grant No. 20190601).
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We declare we have no competing interests.
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Zhou, J., Wang, M. & Yi, X. Alteration of Gut Microbiota of a Food-Storing Hibernator, Siberian Chipmunk Tamias sibiricus. Microb Ecol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00248-021-01877-7
- Siberian chipmunk
- Food-storing hibernator
- Gut microbiota