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Intestinal microbial patterns of the common marmoset and rhesus macaque.

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  • 1Harlow Primate Laboratory, 22 N. Charter Street, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 53715, USA.


The intestinal microflora of common marmosets and rhesus monkeys were compared by enumerating bacteria from the small and large intestines. Rhesus monkeys had a consistent microflora pattern manifest by higher concentrations of total and Gram-negative aerobic and facultatively anaerobic bacteria, as well as aerobic and anaerobic Lactobacilli, in the large intestine as compared to the small intestine. In contrast, the marmoset microflora were considerably more variable. Approximately two-thirds of the marmosets (designated group A) had an overall profile that resembled the rhesus monkeys, but they had significantly higher concentrations of Gram-negative microflora in their large intestines than the rhesus monkeys. The remaining marmosets (group B) had higher concentrations of bacteria in the small intestine as compared to the large intestine, with the large intestinal concentrations being significantly lower than in the rhesus monkeys and group A marmosets. Moreover, the marmosets did not have detectable levels of aerobic Lactobacilli, and anaerobic Lactobacilli concentrations were significantly lower than in the rhesus macaques. Although it is unknown why microflora differ across species, it is likely that evolutionary adaptations in anatomy and functioning of the gastrointestinal tract influence the concentration and types of bacteria residing as the normal intestinal microflora.

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