Bacterial communities in the alpaca gastrointestinal tract vary with diet and body site

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Gut-associated microbes ('gut microbiota') impact the nutrition of their hosts, especially in ruminants and pseudoruminants that consume high-cellulose diets. Examples include the pseudoruminant alpaca. To better understand how body site and diet influence the alpaca microbiota, we performed three 16S rRNA gene surveys. First, we surveyed the compartment 1 (C1), duodenum, jejunum, ileum, cecum, and large intestine (LI) of alpacas fed a grass hay (GH; tall fescue) or alfalfa hay (AH) diet for 30 days. Second, we performed a C1 survey of alpacas fed a series of 2-week mixed grass hay (MGH) diets supplemented with ∼25% dry weight barley, quinoa, amaranth, or soybean meal. Third, we examined the microbial differences of alpacas with normal versus poor body condition. Samples from GH- and AH-fed alpacas grouped by diet and body site but none of the four supplements significantly altered C1 microbiota composition, relative to each other, and none of the OTUs were differentially abundant between alpacas with normal versus poor body conditions. Taken together, the findings of a diet- and body-site specific alpaca microbiota are consistent with previous findings in ruminants and other mammals, but we provide no evidence to link changes in alpaca body condition with variation in microbiota relative abundance or identity.




Carroll, C., Olsen, K. D., Ricks, N. J., Dill-McFarland, K. A., Suen, G., Robinson, T. F., & Chaston, J. M. (2019). Bacterial communities in the alpaca gastrointestinal tract vary with diet and body site. Frontiers in Microbiology, 10(JAN).

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