Gut Microbiome Profiling of the Endangered Southern Greater Glider (Petauroides volans) after the 2019–2020 Australian Megafire

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Studying the gut microbiome can provide valuable insights into animal health and inform the conservation management of threatened wildlife. Gut microbiota play important roles in regulating mammalian host physiology, including digestion, energy metabolism and immunity. Dysbiosis can impair such physiological processes and compromise host health, so it is essential that the gut microbiome be considered in conservation planning. The southern greater glider (Petauroides volans) is an endangered arboreal marsupial that faced widespread habitat fragmentation and population declines following the 2019–2020 Australian bushfire season. This study details baseline data on the gut microbiome of this species. The V3–V4 region of the 16S rRNA gene was amplified from scats collected from individuals inhabiting burnt and unburnt sites across southeastern Australia and sequenced to determine bacterial community composition. Southern greater glider gut microbiomes were characterised by high relative abundances of Firmicutes and Bacteroidota, which is consistent with that reported for other marsupial herbivores. Significant differences in gut microbial diversity and community structure were detected among individuals from different geographic locations. Certain microbiota and functional orthologues were also found to be significantly differentially abundant between locations. The role of wildfire in shaping southern greater glider gut microbiomes was shown, with some significant differences in the diversity and abundance of microbiota detected between burnt and unburnt sites. Overall, this study details the first data on greater glider (Petauroides) gut microbiomes, laying the foundation for future studies to further explore relationships between microbial community structure, environmental stressors and host health.

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Funding Sponsor

Department of Industry, Science and Resources



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