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It's what's on the inside that counts: stress physiology underlies variation in the microbiome of a wild urban mammal

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Title: It's what's on the inside that counts: stress physiology underlies variation in the microbiome of a wild urban mammal
Author: Stothart, Mason
Department: Department of Integrative Biology
Program: Integrative Biology
Advisor: Newman, Amy
Abstract: Vertebrate physiology and behaviour are shaped by the diverse bacterial communities (i.e. microbiomes) they harbour. This has led to theorization that changes in the microbiome might allow species to rapidly acclimate to environmental change. However, when microbiome change occurs, it is unclear whether it is proximately driven by the host’s environment or changes in host physiology. I leveraged urbanization to directly compare the ability of host environment (urban vs. forest) versus host physiological differences between environments to explain variation in the eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) intestinal microbiome. Host hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis measures explained deeper taxonomic divides in intestinal bacterial communities than environment. These patterns were strongly related to trade-offs between bacteria specializing on digesta versus host derived nutrients and may indicate a conserved exchange in the vertebrate host-microbiome relationship. This suggests that although a host’s environment affects the microbiome, this influence is refracted by host physiology.
Date: 2018-12
Rights: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International

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