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Gut microflora of vervet and samango monkeys in relation to diet.

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  • Research Article


The microflora in the gastrointestinal tracts of wild vervet and samango monkeys (Cercopithecus aethiops and C. mitis, respectively) were studied, using fermentation acid analysis, electron microscopy, and culturing methods. The diets of the two species of monkey differ considerably, with that of the samango including a greater proportion of cellulose-rich leaf material, and this is reflected in the microflora. Volatile fatty acid measurements along the gut of both species showed that these end products of bacterial metabolism were concentrated in the cecum and colon. Electron microscopy indicated that morphologically similar bacteria were present in the cecum and colon of both species, but the samango possessed a distinct stomach microflora. Bacteria in the lumina of the four main regions of the gut of the monkeys (stomach, small intestine, cecum, and colon) were plated on a number of anaerobic media (Mann, Rogosa, and Sharp; clostridial basal; and complex media). The cecum and colon were found to contain higher numbers of microbes per gram (wet weight) of gut content than the stomach and small intestine. Microbial isolates were able to catabolize carboxymethyl cellulose and other polymers. This may aid the monkeys, particularly samangos, in the digestion of fibrous dietary components such as leaves.

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