Defining gut mycobiota for wild animals: a need for caution in assigning authentic resident fungal taxa

Anton Lavrinienko, Tiffany Scholier, Scott T. Bates, Andrew N. Miller, Phillip C. Watts

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review


Animal gut mycobiota, the community of fungi that reside within the gastrointestinal tract, make an important contribution to host health. Accordingly, there is an emerging interest to quantify the gut mycobiota of wild animals. However, many studies of wild animal gut mycobiota do not distinguish between the fungi that likely can reside within animal gastrointestinal tracts from the fungal taxa that are non-residents, such as macrofungi, lichens or plant symbionts/pathogens that can be ingested as part of the host’s diet. Confounding the non-resident and resident gut fungi may obscure attempts to identify processes associated with the authentic, resident gut mycobiota per se. To redress this problem, we propose some strategies to filter the taxa identified within an apparent gut mycobiota based on an assessment of host ecology and fungal traits. Consideration of the different sources and roles of fungi present within the gastrointestinal tract should facilitate a more precise understanding of the causes and consequences of variation in wild animal gut mycobiota composition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number75
JournalAnimal Microbiome
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Amplicon sequencing
  • Community analysis
  • Host-microbe interaction
  • Intestinal fungi
  • Microbiota
  • Microfungi
  • Mycobiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • veterinary (miscalleneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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