Metagenomic-Based Study of the Phylogenetic and Functional Gene Diversity in Galápagos Land and Marine Iguanas

Pei Ying Hong, Yuejian Mao, Shannon Ortiz-Kofoed, Rushabh Shah, Isaac Cann, Roderick I. Mackie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this study, a metagenome-based analysis of the fecal samples from the macrophytic algae-consuming marine iguana (MI; Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and terrestrial biomass-consuming land iguanas (LI; Conolophus spp.) was conducted. Phylogenetic affiliations of the fecal microbiome were more similar between both iguanas than to other mammalian herbivorous hosts. However, functional gene diversities in both MI and LI iguana hosts differed in relation to the diet, where the MI fecal microbiota had a functional diversity that clustered apart from the other terrestrial-biomass consuming reptilian and mammalian hosts. A further examination of the carbohydrate-degrading genes revealed that several of the prevalent glycosyl hydrolases (GH), glycosyl transferases (GT), carbohydrate binding modules (CBM), and carbohydrate esterases (CE) gene classes were conserved among all examined herbivorous hosts, reiterating the important roles these genes play in the breakdown and metabolism of herbivorous diets. Genes encoding some classes of carbohydrate-degrading families, including GH2, GH13, GT2, GT4, CBM50, CBM48, CE4, and CE11, as well as genes associated with sulfur metabolism and dehalogenation, were highly enriched or unique to the MI. In contrast, gene sequences that relate to archaeal methanogenesis were detected only in LI fecal microbiome, and genes coding for GH13, GH66, GT2, GT4, CBM50, CBM13, CE4, and CE8 carbohydrate active enzymes were highly abundant in the LI. Bacterial populations were enriched on various carbohydrates substrates (e.g., glucose, arabinose, xylose). The majority of the enriched bacterial populations belong to genera Clostridium spp. and Enterococcus spp. that likely accounted for the high prevalence of GH13 and GH2, as well as the GT families (e.g., GT2, GT4, GT28, GT35, and GT51) that were ubiquitously present in the fecal microbiota of all herbivorous hosts.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)444-456
Number of pages13
JournalMicrobial Ecology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2014


  • Carbohydrate
  • Degrading enzymes
  • Fecal microbiome
  • Galápagos iguanas
  • Herbivory
  • Shotgun metagenomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Ecology
  • Soil Science


Dive into the research topics of 'Metagenomic-Based Study of the Phylogenetic and Functional Gene Diversity in Galápagos Land and Marine Iguanas'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this