Abstract # 134:

Scheduled for Friday, June 21, 2013 03:30 PM-03:45 PM: Session 19 (Auditorium) Oral Presentation


A. Gomez1,4, K. Petrzelkova2, C. J. Yeoman3, B. A. White1,4, R. Stumpf1,5, K. E. Nelson6, M. Gillis6, M. Torralba6, B. A. Wilson1 and S. R. Leigh7
1Institute for Genomic Biology. University of Illinois. 1206 W Gregory Dr., Urbana, IL 61801, USA, 2Department of Mammal Ecology. Institute of Vertebrate Biology Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, BRNO, CZECH REPUBLIC, 32Montana State Univ., Bozeman, MT, 4Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana, IL, 5Dept. of Anthropology, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, 6Craig Venter Instute., Rockvillle, MD, 7Department of Anthropology, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO

Gorilla spp. rely heavily on colonic microbial fermentation to digest fibrous plant materials. Yet, little is known about the factors that impact colonic bacterial communities in wild gorillas. To investigate how overall ecology and range overlap with humans influence distal microbiome composition and function in free range gorillas, we combined bacterial 16S rRNA high-throughput sequencing, short chain fatty acid (SCFA) profiling and qPCR of hydrogenotrophic gene pathways in fecal samples (n=34) of 2 habituated and 2 unhabituated western lowland gorilla groups, collected in November and December (dry season)/2009 at Dzanga Sangha, Central African Republic. Our findings reveal social group (ANOSIM’s R=0.6; p=0.001) and habituation level (ANOSIM’s R=0.35; p=0.001), specific fecal bacterial composition. SCFA data on samples from 2 groups habituated for 9 and 3 years respectively also indicated group-specific profiles (PERMANOVA’s pseudo-F=18.85; p=0.001), with higher total SCFA yields and molar proportions of acetate and propionate in the former, and higher fecal butyrate characterizing the latter (t-test; p<0.01). Samples from the group habituated for the longest time also revealed an increased abundance of methanogens, sulfate reducers and enterobacteria compared to all other groups (ANOVA; p<0.01). While these patterns may reflect differences in foraging choices and food availability, as well as a significant effect of social bonding, it is likely that anthropogenic factors further impact distal bacterial communities in wild gorillas and thus their nutritional efficiency.