High Nutrient Transport and Cycling Potential Revealed in the Microbial Metagenome of Australian Sea Lion (Neophoca cinerea) Faeces

Patricia Lavery, Ben Roudnew, Justin Seymour, James Mitchell, Thomas Jeffries

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Metagenomic analysis was used to examine the taxonomic diversity and metabolic potential of an Australian sea lion (Neophoca cinerea) gut microbiome. Bacteria comprised 98% of classifiable sequences and of these matches to Firmicutes (80%) were dominant, with Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria representing 8% and 2% of matches respectively. The relative proportion of Firmicutes (80%) to Bacteriodetes (2%) is similar to that in previous studies of obese humans and obese mice, suggesting the gut microbiome may confer a predisposition towards the excess body fat that is needed for thermoregulation within the cold oceanic habitats foraged by Australian sea lions. Core metabolic functions, including carbohydrate utilisation (14%), protein metabolism (9%) and DNA metabolism (7%) dominated the metagenome, but in comparison to human and fish gut microbiomes there was a significantly higher proportion of genes involved in phosphorus metabolism (2.4%) and iron scavenging mechanisms (1%). When sea lions defecate at sea, the relatively high nutrient metabolism potential of bacteria in their faeces may accelerate the dissolution of nutrients from faecal particles, enhancing their persistence in the euphotic zone where they are available to stimulate marine production.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article numbere36478
    Pages (from-to)e36478
    Number of pages9
    JournalPLoS One
    Volume7
    Issue number5
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 11 May 2012

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