Faecal microbiota analysis and transplantation in four oceanaria-based short-finned pilot whales Globicephala macrorhynchus
Keywords:Faecal microbiota transplantation, microbiota, mycobiome
The faecal microbiota of marine mammals has been studied to monitor enteric bacterial infections. Currently, there is no literature characterising the faecal microbiota of live pilot whales Globicephala macrorhynchus. Faecal microbiota is affected by genetics, environment, disease, and medications. Dysbiosis, disturbances in microbiota composition, involves pathobiont expansion, reduced diversity and/or loss of beneficial microbes. Faecal microbiota transplantation (FMT) is used in human and veterinary medicine to treat gastrointestinal diseases and to restore gut microbiota. The goals of this study were to characterise the faecal microbiota in four pilot whales in a managed care facility and assess the effects of FMT in one pilot whale to treat recurrent gastrointestinal disease. Baseline faecal microbiota analyses of the four whales via 16S rRNA and ITS next-generation sequencing identified bacteria within the phyla Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, Fusobacteria and Firmicutes, and the fungal phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota. Serial faecal samples were collected from one donor, the microbiota analysed, and samples processed for oral administration to the FMT recipient via capsules. The recipient’s faecal microbiota, analysed on days 0, 5, 10, 16, 28 and 29 following FMT showed increased microbial diversity at the species level. Overall success of the FMT is unclear, as clinical signs of dysbiosis and microbial diversity initially resolved; however, the recipient later had recurring gastrointestinal upset, anorexia and lethargy, requiring aggressive antimicrobial administration for stabilisation.
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