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      An observational study of the microbiome of the maternal pouch and saliva of the tammar wallaby, Macropus eugenii, and of the gastrointestinal tract of the pouch young.

      Microbiology (Reading, England)

      isolation & purification, Animals, DNA, Bacterial, genetics, Female, Gastrointestinal Tract, microbiology, Macropodidae, Metagenome, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Molecular Sequence Data, Phylogeny, Proteobacteria, RNA, Ribosomal, 16S, Saliva, Actinobacteria

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          Marsupial mammals, born in an extremely atricial state with no functional immune system, offer a unique opportunity to investigate both the developing microbiome and its relationship to that of the mother and the potential influence of this microbiome upon the development of the immune system. In this study we used a well-established marsupial model animal, Macropus eugenii, the tammar wallaby, to document the microbiome of three related sites: the maternal pouch and saliva, and the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of the young animal. We used molecular-based methods, targeting the 16S rDNA gene to determine the bacterial diversity at these study sites. In the maternal pouch, 41 unique phylotypes, predominantly belonging to the phylum Actinobacteria, were detected, while in the saliva, 48 unique phylotypes were found that predominantly belonged to the phylum Proteobacteria. The GIT of the pouch young had a complex microbiome of 53 unique phylotypes, even though the pouch young were still permanently attached to the teat and had only been exposed to the external environment for a few minutes immediately after birth while making their way from the birth canal to the maternal pouch. Of these 53 phylotypes, only nine were detected at maternal sites. Overall, the majority of bacteria isolated were novel species (<97 % identity to known 16S rDNA sequences), and each study site (i.e. maternal pouch and saliva, and the GIT of the pouch young) possessed its own unique microbiome.

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