Fecal bacterial diversity of wild Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana)

Xuecong Liu, Penglai Fan, Rongxiao Che, Huan Li, Lina Yi, Na Zhao, Paul A. Garber, Fang Li, Zhigang Jiang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The gastrointestinal tract of primates harbors a complex microbial community, playing an essential role in the degradation of otherwise indigestible structural carbohydrates. The phylogenetic and functional diversity of the bacterial community in the feces as a surrogate for the gastrointestinal tract of wild Sichuan snub-nosed monkeys (Rhinopithecus roxellana, N = 6) was characterized based on sequence analysis of 16S rRNA genes. A sex comparison was conducted, with a prior hypothesis that the abundances of the bacterial taxa and/or functional categories associated with energy and nutrient metabolism would be higher in adult females (N = 3) due to the higher reproductive costs compared to adult males (N = 3). Ten phyla were identified in all samples, among which Bacteroidetes and Firmicutes were the predominant. Included in the above two phyla, the members of Prevotellaceae (Prevotella in particular) and Ruminococcaceae were highly abundant, which are common bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract of primates and can degrade various structural carbohydrates such as cellulose, hemicellulose, and pectin. This functionality was in line with the high abundances of the metagenomes associated with carbohydrate metabolism. Consistent with our hypothesis, the abundances of the metagenomes associated with energy metabolism, folding/sorting and degradation, glycan biosynthesis and metabolism, and metabolism of amino acids were higher in adult females relative to adult males. Sex differences were also detected in the bacterial community structure, although no sex differences in the proportions of any bacterial taxa were found likely due to the small sample size. These results suggested that gastrointestinal bacterial communities may aid adult females in increasing energy and nutrition utilization efficiencies compared to adult males. Fecal bacterial communities were found to be more similar between individuals in adult females than in adult males. Our study presented the first examination of the fecal bacterial diversity of a little-studied, endangered foregut fermenter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22753
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2018


  • 16S rRNA genes
  • fecal bacteria
  • high-throughput sequencing
  • KEGG pathways
  • Rhinopithecus roxellana

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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