Conservation through Science under God

Fox: Analyses of the Gut Microbiome of Red Fox and other Fox
Jul 3, 2021 06:24 ET

The gut microbiome is integral for the host’s living and environmental adaptation and crucially important for understanding host adaptive mechanisms. The red fox (Vulpes vulpes) dominates a wider ecological niche and more complicated habitat than that of the corsac fox (V. corsac). However, the adaptive mechanisms (in particular, the gut microbiome responsible for this kind of difference) are still unclear. Therefore, we investigated the gut microbiome of these two species in the Hulunbuir grassland, China, and evaluated their microbiome composition, function, and adaptive mechanisms. We profiled the gut microbiome and metabolism function of red and corsac foxes via 16S rRNA gene and metagenome sequencing. The foxes harbored species-specific microbiomes and functions that were related to ecological niche and habitat. The red fox had abundant Bacteroides, which leads to significant enrichment of metabolic pathways (K12373 and K21572) and enzymes related to chitin and carbohydrate degradation that may help the red fox adapt to a wider niche. The corsac fox harbored large proportions of Blautia, Terrisporobacter, and ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transporters (K01990, K02003, and K06147) that can help maintain corsac fox health, allowing it to live in harsh habitats. These results indicate that the gut microbiome of the red and corsac foxes may have different abilities which may provide these species with differing capabilities to adapt to different ecological niches and habitats, thus providing important microbiome data for understanding the mechanisms of host adaptation to different niches and habitats.

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