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2019 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America  
Diet and gut microbiome composition are important for mammalian health, but their fluctuation in response to environmental changes is unclear. Tyler Kartzinel et al. (pp. 23588-23593) collected and analyzed fecal samples from 33 large herbivore species from Laikipia, Kenya, over 5 1-month sampling periods between 2013 and 2016. To assess seasonal variation in diet and microbiome composition, the authors sequenced bacterial and plant DNA. Diet composition was correlated with microbiome
more » ... icrobiome composition across most species. Phylogenetic relatedness predicted microbiome composition and was correlated with diet composition, whereas dietary diversity did not predict the microbiome diversity of any species, except kudu. Diet and microbiomes also changed seasonally as rainfall waxed and waned. Overall, seasonal shifts in diet composition predicted 25% of seasonal turnover in microbiome composition. Species such as elephants exhibited little variability in either diet or microbiome, whereas species such as camels exhibited significant differences in both. Along this spectrum, domesticated species exhibited greater diet-microbiome turnover than wild species. Further, diets were often more diverse in the dry season and dominated by relatively few plant taxa in the wet season. The results suggest that understanding diet-microbiome links could help explain food-web structures within communities and ecological differences between livestock and wildlife, according to the authors. -M.S.
doi:10.1073/iti4719116 fatcat:c6jox5emwbg4niyquaizakpcdu