Stable and transient structural variation in lemur vaginal, labial and axillary microbiomes: patterns by species, body site, ovarian hormones and forest access.
Host-associated microbiomes shape and are shaped by myriad processes that ultimately delineate their symbiotic functions. Whereas a host's stable traits, such as its lineage, relate to gross aspects of its microbiome structure, transient factors, such as its varying physiological state, relate to shorter term, structural variation. Our understanding of these relationships in primates derives principally from anthropoid studies and would benefit from a broader, comparative perspective. We thus examined the vaginal, labial and axillary microbiota of captive, female ring-tailed lemurs (Lemur catta) and Coquerel's sifakas (Propithecus coquereli), across an ovarian cycle, to better understand their relation to stable (e.g. species identity/mating system, body site) and transient (e.g. ovarian hormone concentration, forest access) host features. We used 16S amplicon sequencing to determine microbial composition and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays to measure serum hormone concentrations. We found marked variation in microbiota diversity and community composition between lemur species and their body sites. Across both host species, microbial diversity was significantly correlated with ovarian hormone concentrations: negatively with progesterone and positively with estradiol. The hosts' differential forest access related to the diversity of environmental microbes, particularly in axillary microbiomes. Such transient endogenous and exogenous modulators have potential implications for host reproductive health and behavioral ecology.
Bornbusch, SL; Grebe, NM; Lunn, S; Southworth, CA; Dimac-Stohl, K; Drea, C
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