Phylogenetic and gene-centric metagenomics of the canine intestinal microbiome reveals similarities with humans and mice

Kelly S. Swanson, Scot E. Dowd, Jan S. Suchodolski, Ingmar S. Middelbos, Brittany M. Vester, Kathleen A. Barry, Karen E. Nelson, Manolito Torralba, Bernard Henrissat, Pedro M. Coutinho, Isaac Ko Cann, Bryan A. White, George C. Fahey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study is the first to use a metagenomics approach to characterize the phylogeny and functional capacity of the canine gastrointestinal microbiome. Six healthy adult dogs were used in a crossover design and fed a low-fiber control diet (K9C) or one containing 7.5% beet pulp (K9BP). Pooled fecal DNA samples from each treatment were subjected to 454 pyrosequencing, generating 503 280 (K9C) and 505 061 (K9BP) sequences. Dominant bacterial phyla included the Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi group and Firmicutes, both of which comprised 35% of all sequences, followed by Proteobacteria (13-15%) and Fusobacteria (7-8%). K9C had a greater percentage of Bacteroidetes, Fusobacteria and Proteobacteria, whereas K9BP had greater proportions of the Bacteroidetes/Chlorobi group and Firmicutes. Archaea were not altered by diet and represented 1% of all sequences. All archaea were members of Crenarchaeota and Euryarchaeota, with methanogens being the most abundant and diverse. Three fungi phylotypes were present in K9C, but none in K9BP. Less than 0.4% of sequences were of viral origin, with >99% of them associated with bacteriophages. Primary functional categories were not significantly affected by diet and were associated with carbohydrates; protein metabolism; DNA metabolism; cofactors, vitamins, prosthetic groups and pigments; amino acids and derivatives; cell wall and capsule; and virulence. Hierarchical clustering of several gastrointestinal metagenomes demonstrated phylogenetic and metabolic similarity between dogs, humans and mice. More research is required to provide deeper coverage of the canine microbiome, evaluate effects of age, genetics or environment on its composition and activity, and identify its role in gastrointestinal disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)639-649
Number of pages11
JournalISME Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2011


  • canine gut
  • gastrointestinal bacteria
  • metagenomics
  • pyrosequencing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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