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Gut microbiota of humans, dogs and cats: current knowledge and future opportunities and challenges

By P. Deng, K. S. Swanson

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High-throughput DNA sequencing techniques allow for the identification and characterisation of microbes and their genes (microbiome). Using these new techniques, microbial populations in several niches of the human body, including the oral and nasal cavities, skin, urogenital tract and gastrointestinal tract, have been described recently. Very little data on the microbiome of companion animals exist, and most of the data have been derived from the analysis of the faeces of healthy laboratory animals. High-throughput assays provide opportunities to study the complex and dense populations of the gut microbiota, including bacteria, archaea, fungi, protozoa and viruses. Our laboratory and others have recently described the predominant microbial taxa and genes of healthy dogs and cats and how these respond to dietary interventions. In general, faecal microbial phylogeny (e.g. predominance of Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria and Actinobacteria) and functional capacity (e.g. major functional groups related to carbohydrate, protein, DNA and vitamin metabolism; virulence factors; and cell wall and capsule) of the canine and feline gut are similar to those of the human gut. Initial sequencing projects have provided a glimpse of the microbial super-organism that exists within the canine and feline gut, but leaves much to be explored and discovered. As DNA provides information only about potential functions, studies that focus on the microbial transcriptome, metabolite profiles, and how microbiome changes affect host physiology and health are clearly required. Future studies must determine how diet composition, antibiotics and other drug therapies, breed and disease affect or are affected by the gut microbiome and how this information may be used to improve diets, identify disease biomarkers and develop targeted disease therapies.

Publication Title British Journal of Nutrition
Volume 113
Issue s1
Pages S6-S17
ISBN/ISSN 0007-1145
DOI 10.1017/s0007114514002943
Language English
Author Address Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois, 162 Animal Sciences Laboratory, 1207 West Gregory Drive, Urbana, IL 61801, USA.ksswanso@illinois.edu
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Analysis
  2. Animal nutrition
  3. Animals
  4. Antibiotics
  5. Bacteria
  6. Canidae
  7. Canine
  8. Carnivores
  9. Cats
  10. Characteristics
  11. Diets
  12. Digestibility
  13. DNA
  14. Dogs
  15. Feces
  16. Fungi
  17. Genes
  18. Health
  19. Humans
  20. Intestines
  21. Laboratories
  22. Leaves
  23. Mammals
  24. Men
  25. Metabolites
  26. Nutrition
  27. peer-reviewed
  28. Pesticides and Drugs
  29. Pets and companion animals
  30. physiology
  31. Primates
  32. prokaryotes
  33. Protozoa
  34. Research
  35. Techniques
  36. vertebrates
  37. Virus diseases
  38. vitamins
  1. peer-reviewed