Fecal Bacteriome and Mycobiome in Bats with Diverse Diets in South China

Abstract

Bats can be divided into frugivory, nectarivory, insectivory, and sanguivory based on their diets, and are therefore ideal wild animal models to study the relationship between diets and intestinal microflora. Early studies of bat gut bacteria showed that the diversity and structure of intestinal bacterial communities in bats are closely related to dietary changes. Worthy of note, intestinal microbes are composed of bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and archaea. Although the number of gut fungi is much lower than that of gut bacteria, they also play an important role in maintaining the host homeostasis. However, there are still few reports on the relationship between the gut mycobiota and the dietary habits of the host. In addition, bats have also been shown to naturally transmit pathogenic viruses and bacteria through their feces and saliva, but fungal infections from bat are less studied. Here, we used high-throughput sequencing of bacterial 16S and eukaryotic 18S rRNA genes in the V4 and V9 regions to characterize fecal bacterial and fungal microbiota in phytophagous and insectivorous bats in South China. The results show that the gut microbiota in bats were dominated by bacterial phyla Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Tenericutes and Bacteroidetes, and fungal phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. There was a significant difference in the diversity of bacterial and fungal microbiota between the groups, in addition to specific bacteria and fungi populations on each of them. Of note, the number of fungi in the feces of herbivorous bats is relatively higher. Most of these fungi are foodborne and are also pathogens of humans and other animals. Thus, bats are natural carriers of fungal pathogens. The current study expands the understanding of the bat gut bacterial and fungal mycobiota and provides further insight into the transmission of fungal pathogens.

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Acknowledgements

This project was supported by the PlanningFunds of Science and Technology of Guangdong Province (2016B070701016 and 2013B031500006), the Funds for Environment Construction and Capacity Building of GDAS’ Research Platform (2016GDASPT-0107), and the GDAS Special Project of Science and Technology Development (2017GDASCX-0107).

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Correspondence to Jinping Chen.

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Li, J., Li, L., Jiang, H. et al. Fecal Bacteriome and Mycobiome in Bats with Diverse Diets in South China. Curr Microbiol 75, 1352–1361 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00284-018-1530-0

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