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Dynamic distribution of gut microbiota in meat rabbits at different growth stages and relationship with average daily gain (ADG)

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Background: The mammalian intestinal tract harbors diverse and dynamic microbial communities that play pivotal roles in host health, metabolism, immunity, and development. Average daily gain (ADG) is an important growth trait in meat rabbit industry. The effects of gut microbiota on ADG in meat rabbits are still unknown. Results: In this study, we investigated the dynamic distribution of gut microbiota in commercial Ira rabbits from weaning to finishing and uncover the relationship between the microbiota and average daily gain (ADG) via 16S rRNA gene sequencing. The results indicated that the richness and diversity of gut microbiota significantly increased with age. Gut microbial structure was less variable among finishing rabbits than among weaning rabbits. The relative abundances of the dominant phyla Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Verrucomicrobia and Cyanobacteria, and the 15 predominant genera significantly varied with age. Metagenomic prediction analysis showed that both KOs and KEGG pathways related to the metabolism of monosaccharides and vitamins were enriched in the weaning rabbits, while those related to the metabolism of amino acids and polysaccharides were more abundant in the finishing rabbits. We identified 34 OTUs, 125 KOs, and 25 KEGG pathways that were significantly associated with ADG. OTUs annotation suggested that butyrate producing bacteria belong to the family Ruminococcaceae and Bacteroidales_S24-7_group were positively associated with ADG. Conversely, Eubacterium_coprostanoligenes_group, Christensenellaceae_R-7_group, and opportunistic pathogens were negatively associated with ADG. Both KOs and KEGG pathways correlated with the metabolism of vitamins, basic amino acids, and short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) showed positive correlations with ADG, while those correlated with aromatic amino acids metabolism and immune response exhibited negative correlations with ADG. In addition, our results suggested that 10.42% of the variation in weaning weight could be explained by the gut microbiome. Conclusions: Our findings give a glimpse into the dynamic shifts in gut microbiota of meat rabbits and provide a theoretical basis for gut microbiota modulation to improve ADG in the meat rabbit industry.




Fang, S., Chen, X., Pan, J., Chen, Q., Zhou, L., Wang, C., … Gan, Q. F. (2020). Dynamic distribution of gut microbiota in meat rabbits at different growth stages and relationship with average daily gain (ADG). BMC Microbiology, 20(1).

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