Thermal homeostasis of mammals is constrained by body-size scaling. Consequently, small mammals require considerable energy to maintain a high mass-specific metabolic rate (MSMR) and sustain target body temperature. In association with gut microbiota, mammalian hosts acquire absorbable molecules and fulfill their metabolic requirements. Our objective was to characterize gut microbes in wild mammals and relate those findings to host body-size scaling. Two large (Petaurista philippensis grandis and P. alborufus lena), one medium (Trogopterus xanthipes) and one small (Pteromys volans orii) species of flying squirrels (FS) were studied. Using 16S rRNA genes, 1,104 OTUs were detected from four FS, with 1.99% of OTUs shared among all FS. Although all FS gut microbiota were dominated by Firmicutes, they were constituted by different bacterial families. Moreover, Bacteroidetes accounted for up to 19% of gut microbiota in small FS, but was absent in large FS. Finally, based on metagenome predictions, carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism genes were enriched in small body-size FS. In conclusion, gut microbiota compositions and predictive metabolic functions were characteristic of body-size in FS, consistent with their adaptations to folivorous dietary niches.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes