Gut microbiome composition is associated with cardiac disease in zoo-housed western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla)

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Abstract

Cardiac disease is a leading cause of mortality in zoo-housed western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). The gut microbiome is associated with cardiac disease in humans and similarly the gut microbiome may be associated with cardiac diseases in close relatives of humans, such as gorillas. We assessed the relationship between cardiac disease and gut bacterial composition in eight zoo-housed male western lowland gorillas (N = 4 with and N = 4 without cardiac disease) utilizing 16S rRNA gene analysis on the Illumina MiSeq sequencing platform. We found bacterial composition differences between gorillas with and without cardiac disease. Bacterial operational taxonomic units from phyla Bacteroidetes, Spirochaetes, Proteobacteria and Firmicutes were significant indicators of cardiac disease. Our results suggest that further investigations between diet and cardiac disease could improve the management and health of zoo-housed populations of this endangered species.

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