skip to main content

Search for: All records

Creators/Authors contains: "Harris, Rachel L."

Note: When clicking on a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number, you will be taken to an external site maintained by the publisher. Some full text articles may not yet be available without a charge during the embargo (administrative interval).
What is a DOI Number?

Some links on this page may take you to non-federal websites. Their policies may differ from this site.

  1. Abstract Background

    Antibiotics alter the diversity, structure, and dynamics of host-associated microbial consortia, including via development of antibiotic resistance; however, patterns of recovery from microbial imbalances and methods to mitigate associated negative effects remain poorly understood, particularly outside of human-clinical and model-rodent studies that focus on outcome over process. To improve conceptual understanding of host-microbe symbiosis in more naturalistic contexts, we applied an ecological framework to a non-traditional, strepsirrhine primate model via long-term, multi-faceted study of microbial community structure before, during, and following two experimental manipulations. Specifically, we administered a broad-spectrum antibiotic, either alone or with subsequent fecal transfaunation, to healthy, male ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta), then used 16S rRNA and shotgun metagenomic sequencing to longitudinally track the diversity, composition, associations, and resistomes of their gut microbiota both within and across baseline, treatment, and recovery phases.


    Antibiotic treatment resulted in a drastic decline in microbial diversity and a dramatic alteration in community composition. Whereas microbial diversity recovered rapidly regardless of experimental group, patterns of microbial community composition reflected long-term instability following treatment with antibiotics alone, a pattern that was attenuated by fecal transfaunation. Covariation analysis revealed that certain taxa dominated bacterial associations, representing potential keystone species in lemur gut microbiota. Antibioticmore »resistance genes, which were universally present, including in lemurs that had never been administered antibiotics, varied across individuals and treatment groups.


    Long-term, integrated study post antibiotic-induced microbial imbalance revealed differential, metric-dependent evidence of recovery, with beneficial effects of fecal transfaunation on recovering community composition, and potentially negative consequences to lemur resistomes. Beyond providing new perspectives on the dynamics that govern host-associated communities, particularly in the Anthropocene era, our holistic study in an endangered species is a first step in addressing the recent, interdisciplinary calls for greater integration of microbiome science into animal care and conservation.

    « less
  2. Abstract

    Research on animal microbiomes is increasingly aimed at determining the evolutionary and ecological factors that govern host–microbiome dynamics, which are invariably intertwined and potentially synergistic. We present three empirical studies related to this topic, each of which relies on the diversity of Malagasy lemurs (representing a total of 19 species) and the comparative approach applied across scales of analysis. In Study 1, we compare gut microbial membership across 14 species in the wild to test the relative importance of host phylogeny and feeding strategy in mediating microbiome structure. Whereas host phylogeny strongly predicted community composition, the same feeding strategies shared by distant relatives did not produce convergent microbial consortia, but rather shaped microbiomes in host lineage‐specific ways, particularly in folivores. In Study 2, we compare 14 species of wild and captive folivores, frugivores, and omnivores, to highlight the importance of captive populations for advancing gut microbiome research. We show that the perturbational effect of captivity is mediated by host feeding strategy and can be mitigated, in part, by modified animal management. In Study 3, we examine various scent‐gland microbiomes across three species in the wild or captivity and show them to vary by host species, sex, body site, andmore »a proxy of social status. These rare data provide support for the bacterial fermentation hypothesis in olfactory signal production and implicate steroid hormones as mediators of microbial community structure. We conclude by discussing the role of scale in comparative microbial studies, the links between feeding strategy and host–microbiome coadaptation, the underappreciated benefits of captive populations for advancing conservation research, and the need to consider the entirety of an animal's microbiota. Ultimately, these studies will help move the field from exploratory to hypothesis‐driven research.

    « less