Geographic pattern of antibiotic resistance genes in the metagenomes of the giant panda.
ABSTRACT: The rise in infections by antibiotic-resistant bacteria poses a serious public health problem worldwide. The gut microbiome of animals is a reservoir for antibiotic resistance genes (ARGs). However, the correlation between the gut microbiome of wild animals and ARGs remains controversial. Here, based on the metagenomes of giant pandas (including three wild populations from the Qinling, Qionglai and Xiaoxiangling Mountains, and two major captive populations from Yaan and Chengdu), we investigated the potential correlation between the constitution of the gut microbiome and the composition of ARGs across the different geographic locations and living environments. We found that the types of ARGs were correlated with gut microbiome composition. The NMDS cluster analysis using Jaccard distance of the ARGs composition of the gut microbiome of wild giant pandas displayed a difference based on geographic location. Captivity also had an effect on the differences in ARGs composition. Furthermore, we found that the Qinling population exhibited profound dissimilarities of both gut microbiome composition and ARGs (the highest proportion of Clostridium and vancomycin resistance genes) when compared to the other wild and captive populations studies, which was supported by previous giant panda whole-genome sequencing analysis. In this study, we provide an example of a potential consensus pattern regarding host population genetics, symbiotic gut microbiome and ARGs. We revealed that habitat isolation impacts the ARG structure in the gut microbiome of mammals. Therefore, the difference in ARG composition between giant panda populations will provide some basic information for their conservation and management, especially for captive populations.
Project description:Captive breeding has been used as an effective approach to protecting endangered animals but its effect on the gut microbiome and the conservation status of these species is largely unknown. The giant panda is a flagship species for the conservation of wildlife. With integrated efforts including captive breeding, this species has been recently upgraded from "endangered" to "vulnerable" (IUCN 2016). Since a large proportion (21.8%) of their global population is still captive, it is critical to understand how captivity changes the gut microbiome of these pandas and how such alterations to the microbiome might affect their future fitness and potential impact on the ecosystem after release into the wild. Here, we use 16S rRNA (ribosomal RNA) marker gene sequencing and shotgun metagenomics sequencing to demonstrate that the fecal microbiomes differ substantially between wild and captive giant pandas. Fecal microbiome diversity was significantly lower in captive pandas, as was the diversity of functional genes. Additionally, captive pandas have reduced functional potential for cellulose degradation but enriched metabolic pathways for starch metabolism, indicating that they may not adapt to a wild diet after being released into the wild since a major component of their diet in the wild will be bamboo. Most significantly, we observed a significantly higher level of amylase activity but a lower level of cellulase activity in captive giant panda feces than those of wild giant pandas, shown by an in vitro experimental assay. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance genes and virulence factors, as well as heavy metal tolerance genes were enriched in the microbiomes of captive pandas, which raises a great concern of spreading these genes to other wild animals and ecosystems when they are released into a wild environment. Our results clearly show that captivity has altered the giant panda microbiome, which could have unintended negative consequences on their adaptability and the ecosystem during the reintroduction of giant pandas into the wild.
Project description:The red panda is the only living species of the genus Ailurus. Like giant pandas, red pandas are also highly specialized to feed mainly on highly fibrous bamboo. Although several studies have focused on the gut microbiota in the giant panda, little is known about the gut microbiota of the red panda. In this study, we characterized the fecal microbiota from both wild (n?=?16) and captive (n?=?6) red pandas using a pyrosequecing based approach targeting the V1-V3 hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA gene. Distinct bacterial communities were observed between the two groups based on both membership and structure. Wild red pandas maintained significantly higher community diversity, richness and evenness than captive red pandas, the communities of which were skewed and dominated by taxa associated with Firmicutes. Phylogenetic analysis of the top 50 OTUs revealed that 10 of them were related to known cellulose degraders. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study of the gut microbiota of the red panda. Our data suggest that, similar to the giant panda, the gut microbiota in the red panda might also play important roles in the digestion of bamboo.
Project description:Bamboo-eating giant panda (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) is an enigmatic species, which possesses a carnivore-like short and simple gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Despite the remarkable studies on giant panda, its diet adaptability status continues to be a matter of debate. To resolve this puzzle, we investigated the functional potential of the giant panda gut microbiome using shotgun metagenomic sequencing of fecal samples. We also compared our data with similar data from other animal species representing herbivores, carnivores, and omnivores from current and earlier studies. We found that the giant panda hosts a bear-like gut microbiota distinct from those of herbivores indicated by the metabolic potential of the microbiome in the gut of giant pandas and other mammals. Furthermore, the relative abundance of genes involved in cellulose- and hemicellulose-digestion, and enrichment of enzymes associated with pathways of amino acid degradation and biosynthetic reactions in giant pandas echoed a carnivore-like microbiome. Most significantly, the enzyme assay of the giant panda's feces indicated the lowest cellulase and xylanase activity among major herbivores, shown by an in-vitro experimental assay of enzyme activity for cellulose and hemicellulose-degradation. All of our results consistently indicate that the giant panda is not specialized to digest cellulose and hemicellulose from its bamboo diet, making the giant panda a good mammalian model to study the unusual link between the gut microbiome and diet. The increased food intake of the giant pandas might be a strategy to compensate for the gut microbiome functions, highlighting a strong need of conservation of the native bamboo forest both in high- and low-altitude ranges to meet the great demand of bamboo diet of giant pandas.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Baylisascaris schroederi is one of the most common nematodes of the giant panda, and can cause severe baylisascarosis in both wild and captive giant pandas. Previous studies of the giant pandas indicated that this population is genetically distinct, implying the presence of a new subspecies. Based on the co-evolution between the parasite and the host, the aim of this study was to investigate the genetic differentiation in the B. schroederi population collected from giant pandas inhabiting different mountain ranges, and further to identify whether the evolution of this parasite correlates with the evolution of giant pandas. METHODS:In this study, 48 B. schroederi were collected from 28 wild giant pandas inhabiting the Qinling, Minshan and Qionglai mountain ranges in China. The complete sequence of the mitochondrial cytochrome b (mtCytb) gene was amplified by PCR, and the corresponding population genetic diversity of the three mountain populations was determined. In addition, we discussed the evolutionary relationship between B. schroederi and its host giant panda. RESULTS:For the DNA dataset, insignificant Fst values and a significant, high level of gene flow were detected among the three mountain populations of B. schroederi, and high genetic variation within populations and a low genetic distance were observed. Both phylogenetic analyses and network mapping of the 16 haplotypes revealed a dispersed pattern and an absence of branches strictly corresponding to the three mountain range sampling sites. Neutrality tests and mismatch analysis indicated that B. schroederi experienced a population expansion in the past. CONCLUSIONS:Taken together, the dispersed haplotype map, extremely high gene flow among the three populations of B. schroederi, low genetic structure and rapid evolutionary rate suggest that the B. schroederi populations did not follow a pattern of isolation by distance, indicating the existence of physical connections before these populations became geographically separated.
Project description:The recent increase in infectious disease outbreaks has been directly linked to the global loss of biodiversity and the decline of some endangered species populations. Between December 2014 and March 2015, five captive giant pandas died due to canine distemper virus (CDV) infection in China. CDV has taken a heavy toll on tigers and lions in recent years. Here, we describe the first gut microbiome diversity study of CDV-infected pandas. By investigating the influence of CDV infection on gut bacterial communities in infected and uninfected individuals and throughout the course of infection, we found that CDV infection distorted the gut microbiota composition by reducing the prevalence of the dominant genera, Escherichia and Clostridium, and increasing microbial diversity. Our results highlight that increases in intestinal inflammation and changes in the relative abundances of pathogen-containing gut communities occur when individuals become infected with CDV. These results may provide new insights into therapeutics that target the microbiota to attenuate the progression of CDV disease and to reduce the risk of gut-linked disease in individuals with CDV. In addition, our findings underscore the need for better information concerning the dynamics of infection and the damage caused by pathogens in panda populations.
Project description:The giant panda is known worldwide for having successfully moved to a diet almost exclusively based on bamboo. Provided that no lignocellulose-degrading enzyme was detected in panda's genome, bamboo digestion is believed to depend on its gut microbiome. However, pandas retain the digestive system of a carnivore, with retention times of maximum 12 h. Cultivation of their unique gut microbiome under controlled laboratory conditions may be a valid tool to understand giant pandas' dietary habits, and provide valuable insights about what component of lignocellulose may be metabolized. Here, we collected gut microbiomes from fresh fecal samples of a giant panda (either entirely green or yellow stools) and supplied them with green leaves or yellow pith (i.e., the peeled stem). Microbial community composition was substrate dependent, and resulted in markedly different fermentation profiles, with yellow pith fermented to lactate and green leaves to lactate, acetate and ethanol, the latter to strikingly high concentrations (?3%, v:v, within 3.5 h). Microbial metaproteins pointed to hemicellulose rather than cellulose degradation. The alpha-amylase from the giant panda (E.C. 188.8.131.52) was the predominant identified metaprotein, particularly in reactors inoculated with pellets derived from fecal samples (up to 60%). Gut microbiomes assemblage was most prominently impacted by the change in substrate (either leaf or pith). Removal of soluble organics from inocula to force lignocellulose degradation significantly enriched Bacteroides (in green leaf) and Escherichia/Shigella (in yellow pith). Overall, different substrates (either leaf or pith) markedly shaped gut microbiome assemblies and fermentation profiles. The biochemical profile of fermentation products may be an underestimated factor contributing to explain the peculiar dietary behavior of giant pandas, and should be implemented in large scale studies together with short-term lab-scale cultivation of gut microbiomes.
Project description:Wild giant pandas use different parts of bamboo (shoots, leaves and stems) and different bamboo species at different times of the year. Their usage of bamboo can be classified temporally into a distinct leaf stage, shoot stage and transition stage. An association between this usage pattern and variation in the giant panda gut microbiome remains unknown. Here, we found associations using a gut metagenomic approach and nutritional analyses whereby diversity of the gut microbial community in the leaf and shoot stages was significantly different. Functional metagenomic analysis showed that in the leaf stage, bacteria species over-represented genes involved in raw fibre utilization and cell cycle control. Thus, raw fibre utilization by the gut microbiome was guaranteed during the nutrient-deficient leaf stage by reinforcing gut microbiome robustness. During the protein-abundant shoot stage, the functional capacity of the gut microbiome expanded to include prokaryotic secretion and signal transduction activity, suggesting active interactions between the gut microbiome and host. These results illustrate that seasonal nutrient variation in wild giant pandas substantially influences gut microbiome composition and function. Nutritional interactions between gut microbiomes and hosts appear to be complex and further work is needed.
Project description:The gut microbiota diversity of eight panda cubs was assessed during a dietary switch.Gut microbiota diversity of panda cubs significantly decreased after bamboo consumption.Carnivorous species living on a plant-based diet possess low microbial diversity.Mice were fed a bamboo diet but did not display low gut microbiota diversity.Giant pandas have an exclusive diet of bamboo; however, their gut microbiotas are more similar to carnivores than herbivores in terms of bacterial composition and their functional potential. This is inconsistent with observations that typical herbivores possess highly diverse gut microbiotas. It is unclear why the gut bacterial diversity of giant pandas is so low. Herein, the dynamic variations in the gut microbiota of eight giant panda cubs were measured using 16S rRNA gene paired-end sequencing during a dietary switch. Similar data from red panda (an herbivorous carnivore) and carnivorous species were compared with that of giant pandas. In addition, mice were fed a high-bamboo diet (80% bamboo and 20% rat feed) to determine whether a bamboo diet could lower the gut bacterial diversity in a non-carnivorous digestive tract. The diversity of giant panda gut microbiotas decreased significantly after switching from milk and complementary food to bamboo diet. Carnivorous species living on a plant-based diet, including giant and red pandas, possess a lower microbial diversity than other carnivore species. Mouse gut microbiota diversity significantly increased after adding high-fibre bamboo to their diet. Findings suggest that a very restricted diet (bamboo) within a carnivorous digestive system might be critical for shaping a low gut bacterial diversity in giant pandas.
Project description:Inbreeding and relatedness in wild panda populations are important parameters for panda conservation. Habitat loss and fragmentation are expected to increase inbreeding but the actual inbreeding levels in natural panda habitats were unknown. Using 150,025 SNPs and 14,926 SNPs selected from published whole-genome sequences, we estimated genomic inbreeding coefficients and relatedness of 49 pandas including 34 wild pandas sampled from six habitats. Qinling and Liangshan pandas had the highest levels of inbreeding and relatedness measured by genomic inbreeding and coancestry coefficients, whereas the inbreeding levels in Qionglai and Minshan were 28-45% of those in Qinling and Liangshan. Genomic coancestry coefficients between pandas from different habitats showed that panda populations from the four largest habitats, Minshan, Qionglai, Qinling and Liangshan, were genetically unrelated. Pandas between these four habitats on average shared 66.0-69.1% common alleles and 45.6-48.6% common genotypes, whereas pandas within each habitat shared 71.8-77.0% common alleles and 51.7-60.4% common genotypes. Pandas in the smaller populations of Qinling and Liangshan were more similarly to each other than pandas in the larger populations of Qionglai and Minshan according to three genomic similarity measures. Panda genetic differentiation between these habitats was positively related to their geographical distances. Most pandas separated by 200 kilometers or more shared no common ancestral alleles. The results provided a genomic quantification of the actual levels of inbreeding and relatedness among pandas in their natural habitats, provided genomic confirmation of the relationship between genetic diversity and geographical distances, and provided genomic evidence to the urgency of habitat protection.
Project description:Adult giant pandas (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) express transitional characteristics in that they consume bamboos, despite their carnivore-like digestive tracts. Their genome contains no cellulolytic enzymes; therefore, understanding the development of the giant panda gut microbiome, especially in early life, is important for decoding the rules underlying gut microbial formation, inheritance and dietary transitions. With deep metagenomic sequencing, we investigated the gut microbiomes of two newborn giant panda brothers and their parents living in Macao, China, from 2016 to 2017. Both giant panda cubs exhibited progressive increases in gut microbial richness during growth, particularly from the 6th month after birth. Enterobacteriaceae dominated the gut microbial compositions in both adult giant pandas and cubs. A total of 583 co-abundance genes (CAGs) and about 79 metagenomic species (MGS) from bacteria or viruses displayed significant changes with age. Seven genera (Shewanella, Oblitimonas, Helicobacter, Haemophilus, Aeromonas, Listeria, and Fusobacterium) showed great importance with respect to gut microbial structural determination in the nursing stage of giant panda cubs. Furthermore, 10 orthologous gene functions and 44 pathways showed significant changes with age. Of the significant pathways, 16 from Escherichia, Klebsiella, Propionibacterium, Lactobacillus, and Lactococcus displayed marked differences between parents and their cubs at birth, while 29 pathways from Escherichia, Campylobacter and Lactobacillus exhibited significant increase in cubs from 6 to 9 months of age. In addition, oxidoreductases, transferases, and hydrolases dominated the significantly changed gut microbial enzymes during the growth of giant panda cubs, while few of them were involved in cellulose degradation. The findings indicated diet-stimulated gut microbiome transitions and the important role of Enterobacteriaceae in the guts of giant panda in early life.