Analysis of the microbial diversity in faecal material of the endangered blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus

TitleAnalysis of the microbial diversity in faecal material of the endangered blue whale, Balaenoptera musculus
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsGuass O., Haapanen L.M, Dowd S.E, Sirovic A., McLaughlin R.W
JournalAntonie Van Leeuwenhoek International Journal of General and Molecular Microbiology
Date Published2016/07
Type of ArticleArticle
ISBN Number0003-6072
Accession NumberWOS:000377489600017
Keywordsbacterial diversity; Balaenoptera musculus; baleen whales; blue whale; clostridium-sordellii; communities; diversity; Faecal material; forestomach; fungal; gut microbiota; intestinal-tract; Microbiota; ribosomal-rna genes; rumen

Using bacterial and fungal tag-encoded FLX-Titanium amplicon pyrosequencing, the microbiota of the faecal material of two blue whales living in the wild off the coast of California was investigated. In both samples the most predominant bacterial phylum was the Firmicutes with Clostridium spp. being the most dominant bacteria. The most predominant fungi were members of the phylum Ascomycota with Metschnikowia spp. being the most dominant. In this study, we also preliminarily characterised the culturable anaerobic bacteria from the faecal material, using traditional culture and 16S rRNA gene sequencing approaches. In total, three bacterial species belonging to the phylum Firmicutes were identified.

Short TitleAntonie Van Leeuwenhoek

Very few studies have looked at the bacterial diversity in whales (Herwig et al. 1984; Olsen et al. 1994, 2000; Sanders et al. 2015). To our knowledge, the bacterial diversity in blue whales has not been examined. In addition, the fungal diversity present in the faecal material of any whale species has not apparently been examined. In our study, approximately ≥98 % of the sequences mapped to the Firmicutes whilst a relatively small percentage of the sequences mapped to Bacteroidetes.

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