Spatial Microbial Composition Along the Gastrointestinal Tract of Captive Attwater’s Prairie Chicken

Yan Zhang, Stephanie E. Simon, Jeff A. Johnson, Michael S. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Gastrointestinal microbiota is increasingly recognized as an important component of individual health, and therefore, our ability to quantify its diversity accurately is central for exploring different ways to improve health. Non-invasive sampling methods, such as cloaca swabs, are often used to measure gastrointestinal microbiota diversity within an individual. However, few studies have addressed to what degree differences exist in microbial community composition along the gastrointestinal tract, and measures obtained from the cloaca may not actually represent the diversity present elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract. In this study, we systematically characterized the gastrointestinal microbial community of the critically endangered Attwater’s Prairie chicken (Tympanuchus cupido attwateri) by opportunistically sampling four different locations (ileum, cecum, large intestine, and cloaca) along the gastrointestinal tract of eight individuals. Spatial variation of microbial community was observed at different sampling locations within the gastrointestinal tract. The cecum harbored the most diverse and significantly different microbiota from the other locations, while the microbial α- and β-diversities were similar in the ileum, large intestine, and cloaca. The results of this study provide evidence that microbiota diversity can differ depending on sampling location and metric used to quantify diversity. As shown here, non-invasive cloacal sampling strategies may reflect microbiota diversity elsewhere in the gastrointestinal tract, yet caution is warranted when making generalizations in terms of the microbiota diversity correlations when samples are obtained from a single location within the gastrointestinal tract.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-977
Number of pages12
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1 May 2017


  • Gastrointestinal microbiota
  • Ion Torrent sequencing
  • Prairie chicken
  • Tympanuchus


Dive into the research topics of 'Spatial Microbial Composition Along the Gastrointestinal Tract of Captive Attwater’s Prairie Chicken'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this