André C. Pereira, Victor Bandeira, Carlos Fonseca, and Mónica V. Cunha
The Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) is a medium-size carnivore that, in Europe, is restricted to Iberia. The bio-ecology of this species remains to be elucidated in several dimensions, including gut microbiota that is nowadays recognized as a fundamental component of mammals. In this work, we investigated the gut microbiota of this herpestid by single-molecule real-time sequencing of twenty paired male (n = 10) and female (n = 10) intestinal samples. This culture-independent approach enabled microbial profiling based on 16S rDNA and investigation of taxonomical and functional features. The core gut microbiome of the adult subpopulation was dominated by Firmicutes, Fusobacteria, Actinobacteria, and Proteobacteria. Eight genera were uniquely found in adults and five in non-adults. When comparing gut bacterial communities across sex, four genera were exclusive of females and six uniquely found in males. Despite these compositional distinctions, alpha- and beta-diversity analyses showed no statistically significant differences across sex or between adult and non-adult specimens. However, when function was inferred, males presented a significantly higher abundance of amino acid and citrate cycle metabolic pathways, compared to the significant overrepresentation in females of galactose metabolic pathways. Additionally, adults exhibited a significantly higher abundance of cationic antimicrobial peptide resistance pathways, while non-adults bared a significant overrepresentation of two-component systems associated with antibiotic synthesis, flagellin and biofilm production, and chemotaxis control. This study adds new insights into the mongoose bio-ecology palette, highlighting taxonomical and functional microbiome dissimilarities across sex and age classes, possibly related to primary production resources and life-history traits that impact on behavior and diet.