Despite the essential role of Bifidobacterium in health-promoting gut bacteria in humans, little is known about their functions in wild animals, especially non-human primates. It is difficult to determine in vivo the function of Bifidobacterium in wild animals due to the limited accessibility of studying target animals in natural conditions. However, the genomic characteristics of Bifidobacterium obtained from the feces of wild animals can provide insight into their functionality in the gut. Here, we analyzed the whole genomes of 12 B. moukalabense strains isolated from seven feces samples of wild western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla), three samples of wild central chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes troglodytes) and two samples of wild forest elephants (Loxodonta cyclotis) in Moukalaba-Doudou National Park, Gabon. In addition, we analyzed the fecal bacterial communities of six wild western lowland gorillas by meta 16S rRNA gene analyses with next generation sequencing. Although the abundance of the genus Bifidobacterium was as low as 0.2% in the total reads, a whole genome analysis of B. moukalabense suggested its contribution digestion of food and nutrition of frugivore/folivore animals. Specifically, the whole genome analysis indicated the involvement of B. moukalabense in hemicellulose degradation for short chain fatty acid production and nucleic acid utilization as nitrogen resources. In comparison with human-associated Bifidobacterium spp., genes for carbohydrate transport and metabolism are not conserved in these wild species. In particular the glycosidases, which are found in all 12 strains of B. moukalabense, were variably detected, or not detected, in human-associated species.
Bibliographical noteFunding: This research was funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST) and Japan International
Cooperation Agency (JICA), grant for the Science and Technology Research Partnership for Sustainable
Development (SATREPS) “Conservation of Biodiversity in Tropical Forest through Sustainable Coexistence
between Human and Wild Animals” (PI, Juichi Yamagiwa) and the study was also supported by Grants-in-Aid
for Scientific Research (15K18775, Sayaka Tsuchida)”.
Acknowledgments: We thank Ayumi Akiyoshi and Chiaki Hagiwara for technical assistance and Takahiro
Yonezawa at Tokyo University of Agriculture for his valuable discussion about genetic evolution of Bifidobacterium.
The authors are indebted for the sampling to Juichi Yamagiwa (Kyoto University), Yuji Takenoshita (Chubu
Gakuin University), Shiho Fujita (Kagoshima University), Ludovic Ngok Banak and Alfred Ngomanda, the former
and the actual Director of the Research Institute of Tropical Ecology (IRET)/National Center of Scientific Research
and Technology (CENAREST) of Gabonese Republic. Takahiro Segawa was supported by Transdisciplinary
Research Integration Center (TRIC) of the Research Organization of Information and Systems. Ortholog analyses
were supported by Basis for Supporting Innovative Drug Discovery and Life Science Research program (2051).
Computations were partially performed on the NIG (National Institute of Genetics) supercomputer at ROIS
(Research Organization of Information and Systems) National Institute of Genetics.
- Bifidobacterium moukalabense
- genomic characteristics
- wild chimpanzees
- wild forest elephants
- wild gorillas