The influence of diet and environment on the gut microbial community of field crickets
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The extent to which diet and environment influence gut community membership (presence or absence of taxa) and structure (individual taxon abundance) is the subject of growing interest in microbiome research. Here, we examined the gut bacterial communities of three cricket groups: (1) wild caught field crickets, (2) laboratory-reared crickets fed cat chow, and (3) laboratory-reared crickets fed chemically defined diets. We found that both environment and diet greatly altered the structure of the gut bacterial community. Wild crickets had greater gut microbial diversity and higher Firmicutes to Bacteroidetes ratios, in contrast to laboratory-reared crickets. Predictive metagenomes revealed that laboratory-reared crickets were significantly enriched in amino acid degradation pathways, while wild crickets had a higher relative abundance of peptidases that would aid in amino acid release. Although wild and laboratory animals differ greatly in their bacterial communities, we show that the community proportional membership remains stable from Phylum to Family taxonomic levels regardless of differences in environment and diet, suggesting that endogenous factors, such as host genetics, have greater control in shaping gut community membership.
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