Green Hyatt C.

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Hyatt C.

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Identification of specialists and abundance-occupancy relationships among intestinal bacteria of Aves, Mammalia, and Actinopterygii

2015-12-16 , Green, Hyatt C. , Fisher, Jenny C. , McLellan, Sandra L. , Sogin, Mitchell L. , Shanks, Orin C.

The coalescence of next generation DNA sequencing methods, ecological perspectives, and bioinformatics analysis tools is rapidly advancing our understanding of the evolution and function of vertebrate-associated bacterial communities. Delineating host-microbial associations has applied benefits ranging from clinical treatments to protecting our natural waters. Microbial communities follow some broad-scale patterns observed for macro-organisms, but it remains unclear how specialization of intestinal vertebrate-associated communities to a particular host environment influences broad-scale patterns in microbial abundance and distribution. We analyzed the V6 region of 16S rRNA gene amplified from 106 fecal samples spanning Aves, Mammalia, and Actinopterygii (ray-finned fish). The interspecific abundance-occupancy relationship—where widespread taxa tend to be more abundant than narrowly distributed taxa—among operational taxonomic units (OTUs) was investigated within and among host species. In a separate analysis, specialists OTUs that were highly abundant in a single host and rare in all other hosts were identified using a multinomial model without excluding under-sampled OTUs a priori. We also show that intestinal microbes in humans and other vertebrates studied follow a similar interspecific abundance-occupancy relationship compared to plants and animals, as well as microbes in ocean and soil environments; but because intestinal host-associated communities have undergone intense specialization, this trend is violated by a disproportionately large number of specialist taxa. Although it is difficult to distinguish the effects of dispersal limitations, host selection, historical contingency, and stochastic processes on community assembly, results suggest bacterial taxa can be shared among diverse vertebrate hosts in ways similar to those of ‘free-living’ bacteria.