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Sexual dimorphism of the gut microbiota in the Chinese alligator and its convergence in the wild environment

Citation

Hu, Meng-Yuan; Yu, Qin-Zhang; Lin, Jian-Qing; Fang, Sheng-Guo (2022), Sexual dimorphism of the gut microbiota in the Chinese alligator and its convergence in the wild environment, Dryad, Dataset, https://doi.org/10.5061/dryad.d7wm37q3r

Abstract

The gut microbiota forms a complex microecosystem in vertebrates and is affected by various factors. As a key intrinsic factor, sex has a persistent impact on the formation and development of gut microbiota. Few studies have analysed sexual dimorphism of gut microbiota, particularly in wild animals. We used 16S rRNA sequencing to analyse the gut microbiota of juvenile and adult Chinese alligators, and untargeted metabolomics to study serum metabolomes of adult alligators. We observed significant sex-biased differences in the community diversity in juvenile, but not adult, alligators. In terms of taxonomic composition, the phylum Fusobacteriota and genus Cetobacterium were highly abundant in adult alligators, similar to that in carnivorous fishes, whereas the gut microbiota composition in juvenile alligators resembled that in terrestrial reptiles, indicating that adults are affected by their wild aquatic environment and lack sex dimorphism in gut microbiota. The correlation analysis revealed that the gut microbiota of adults was also affected by cyanobacteria in the external environment, and this effect was sex-biased and mediated by sex hormones. Overall, this study reveals sexual differences in the gut microbiota of crocodilians and their convergence in the external environment. It also provides insights into host-microbiota interactions in the wild.

Funding

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 31530087

National Natural Science Foundation of China, Award: 32001227

Natural Science Foundation of Zhejiang Province, Award: LQ21C030008

Open Fund of MOE Key Laboratory of Biosystems Homeostasis and Protection, Award: 2021BHPKF001