Microbiota of little penguins and short-tailed shearwaters during development

Meagan L. Dewar, John P.Y. Arnould, Theo R. Allnutt, Tamsyn Crowley, Lutz Krause, John Reynolds, Peter Dann, Stuart C. Smith

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11 Citations (Scopus)


The establishment and early colonisation of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract has been recognised as a crucial stage in chick development, with pioneering microbial species responsible for influencing the development of the GI tract and influencing host health, fitness and disease status throughout life. Development of the microbiota in long lived seabirds is poorly understood. This study characterised the microbial composition of little penguin and short-tailed shearwater chicks throughout development, using Quantitative Real Time PCR (qPCR) and 16S rRNA sequencing. The results indicated that microbial development differed between the two seabird species with the short-tailed shearwater microbiota being relatively stable throughout development whilst significant fluctuations in the microbial composition and an upward trend in the abundance of Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were observed in the little penguin. When the microbial composition of adults and chicks was compared, both species showed low similarity in microbial composition, indicating that the adult microbiota may have a negligible influence over the chick’s microbiota.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0183117
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

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