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Exploring the potential effects of forest urbanization on the interplay between small mammal communities and their gut microbiota

  • Bouilloud, Marie
  • Galan, Maxime
  • Pradel, Julien
  • Loiseau, Anne
  • Ferrero, Julien
  • Gallet, Romain
  • Roche, Benjamin
  • Charbonnel, Nathalie
Publication Date
Mar 25, 2024
DOI: 10.1186/s42523-024-00301-y
PMID: 38528597
OAI: oai:HAL:hal-04527902v1
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Urbanization significantly impacts wild populations, favoring urban dweller species over those that are unable to adapt to rapid changes. These differential adaptative abilities could be mediated by the microbiome, which may modulate the host phenotype rapidly through a high degree of flexibility. Conversely, under anthropic perturbations, the microbiota of some species could be disrupted, resulting in dysbiosis and negative impacts on host fitness. The links between the impact of urbanization on host communities and their gut microbiota (GM) have only been scarcely explored. In this study, we tested the hypothesis that the bacterial composition of the GM could play a role in host adaptation to urban environments. We described the GM of several species of small terrestrial mammals sampled in forested areas along a gradient of urbanization, using a 16S metabarcoding approach. We tested whether urbanization led to changes in small mammal communities and in their GM, considering the presence and abundance of bacterial taxa and their putative functions. This enabled to decipher the processes underlying these changes. We found potential impacts of urbanization on small mammal communities and their GM. The urban dweller species had a lower bacterial taxonomic diversity but a higher functional diversity and a different composition compared to urban adapter species. Their GM assembly was mostly governed by stochastic effects, potentially indicating dysbiosis. Selection processes and an overabundance of functions were detected that could be associated with adaptation to urban environments despite dysbiosis. In urban adapter species, the GM functional diversity and composition remained relatively stable along the urbanization gradient. This observation can be explained by functional redundancy, where certain taxa express the same function. This could favor the adaptation of urban adapter species in various environments, including urban settings. We can therefore assume that there are feedbacks between the gut microbiota and host species within communities, enabling rapid adaptation.

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