Network-guided genomic and metagenomic analysis of the faecal microbiota of the critically endangered kakapo
Waite, David W.
Taylor, Michael W.
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The kakapo is a critically endangered, herbivorous parrot endemic to New Zealand. The kakapo hindgut hosts a dense microbial community of low taxonomic diversity, typically dominated by Escherichia fergusonii, and has proven to be a remarkably stable ecosystem, displaying little variation in core membership over years of study. To elucidate mechanisms underlying this robustness, we performed 16S rRNA gene-based co-occurrence network analysis to identify potential interactions between E. fergusonii and the wider bacterial community. Genomic and metagenomic sequencing were employed to facilitate interpretation of potential interactions observed in the network. E. fergusonii maintained very few correlations with other members of the microbiota, and isolates possessed genes for the generation of energy from a wide range of carbohydrate sources, including plant fibres such as cellulose. We surmise that this dominant microorganism is abundant not due to ecological interaction with other members of the microbiota, but its ability to metabolise a wide range of nutrients in the gut. This research represents the first concerted effort to understand the functional roles of the kakapo microbiota, and leverages metagenomic data to contextualise co-occurrence patterns. By combining these two techniques we provide a means for studying the diversity-stability hypothesis in the context of bacterial ecosystems.
© The Author(s), 2018. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License. The definitive version was published in Scientific Reports 8 (2018): 8128, doi:10.1038/s41598-018-26484-4.
Suggested CitationScientific Reports 8 (2018): 8128
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