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      Age-related differences in the cloacal microbiota of a wild bird species

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          Abstract

          Background

          Gastrointestinal bacteria play a central role in the health of animals. The bacteria that individuals acquire as they age may therefore have profound consequences for their future fitness. However, changes in microbial community structure with host age remain poorly understood. We characterised the cloacal bacteria assemblages of chicks and adults in a natural population of black-legged kittiwakes ( Rissa tridactyla), using molecular methods.

          Results

          We show that the kittiwake cloaca hosts a diverse assemblage of bacteria. A greater number of total bacterial OTUs (operational taxonomic units) were identified in chicks than adults, and chicks appeared to host a greater number of OTUs that were only isolated from single individuals. In contrast, the number of bacteria identified per individual was higher in adults than chicks, while older chicks hosted more OTUs than younger chicks. Finally, chicks and adults shared only seven OTUs, resulting in pronounced differences in microbial assemblages. This result is surprising given that adults regurgitate food to chicks and share the same nesting environment.

          Conclusions

          Our findings suggest that chick gastrointestinal tracts are colonised by many transient species and that bacterial assemblages gradually transition to a more stable adult state. Phenotypic differences between chicks and adults may lead to these strong differences in bacterial communities. These data provide the framework for future studies targeting the causes and consequences of variation in bacterial assemblages in wild birds.

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          Most cited references 38

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          MRBAYES: Bayesian inference of phylogenetic trees.

          The program MRBAYES performs Bayesian inference of phylogeny using a variant of Markov chain Monte Carlo. MRBAYES, including the source code, documentation, sample data files, and an executable, is available at http://brahms.biology.rochester.edu/software.html.
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            Interactions between commensal intestinal bacteria and the immune system.

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              TREEFINDER: a powerful graphical analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics

              Background Most analysis programs for inferring molecular phylogenies are difficult to use, in particular for researchers with little programming experience. Results TREEFINDER is an easy-to-use integrative platform-independent analysis environment for molecular phylogenetics. In this paper the main features of TREEFINDER (version of April 2004) are described. TREEFINDER is written in ANSI C and Java and implements powerful statistical approaches for inferring gene tree and related analyzes. In addition, it provides a user-friendly graphical interface and a phylogenetic programming language. Conclusions TREEFINDER is a versatile framework for analyzing phylogenetic data across different platforms that is suited both for exploratory as well as advanced studies.
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                Author and article information

                Journal
                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecol
                BMC Ecology
                BioMed Central
                1472-6785
                2013
                25 March 2013
                : 13
                : 11
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Konrad Lorenz Institute of Ethology, Department of Integrative Biology and Evolution, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Savoyenstrasse 1a, Vienna, 1160, Austria
                [2 ]CNRS-UPS-ENFA; Laboratoire Évolution & Diversité Biologique (EDB), UMR 5174, 118 Route de Narbonne, Toulouse, F-31062, France
                [3 ]US Geological Survey, Alaska Science Center, 4210 University Drive, Anchorage, AK, 99508, USA
                Article
                1472-6785-13-11
                10.1186/1472-6785-13-11
                3668179
                23531085
                4e28b52a-53f0-4b52-baa0-b8ca35b7b270
                Copyright ©2013 van Dongen et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

                This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License ( http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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                Research Article

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