December 22, 2021

The plant secondary compound swainsonine reshapes gut microbiota in plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae)

  Plants produce various plant secondary compounds (PSCs) to deter the foraging of herbivorous mammals. However, little is known about whether PSCs can reshape gut microbiota and promote gut homeostasis of hosts. Using 16S rDNA sequencing to investigate the effects of PSCs on the gut microbiota of small herbivorous mammals, we studied plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae) fed diets containing swainsonine (SW) extracted from Oxytropis ochrocephala. Our results showed that both long- and short-term treatment of a single artificial diet in the laboratory significantly reduced alpha diversity and signifi- cantly affected beta diversity, core bacteria abundance, and bacterial functions in pikas. After SW was added to the artificial diet, the alpha diversity significantly increased in the long-term treatment, and core bacteria (e.g., Akkermansiaceae) with altered relative abundances in the two treatments showed no significant difference compared with pikas in the wild. The complexity of the co-occurrence network structure was reduced in the artificial diet, but it increased after SW was added in both treatments. Further, the abundances of bacteria related to altered alanine, aspartate, and glutamate metabolism in the artificial diet were restored in response to SW. SW further decreased the concentration of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in both treatments. Our results suggest that PSCs play a key role in regulating gut microbiota community and intestinal homeostasis, thereby maintaining host health.


  Fig. 3 Taxonomic alterations in the gut bacteria. Changes in the log-abundance of core OTUs in the (a) long-term and (b) short-term treatments. Core OTUs are shown for the lower taxonomic unit.

  This result was published in Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology with the title of “The plant secondary compound swainsonine reshapes gut microbiota in plateau pikas (Ochotona curzoniae)”.

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