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PLoS One. 2018 Dec 27;13(12):e0209789. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0209789. eCollection 2018.

Gut microbiota dynamics and functionality in Reticulitermes grassei after a 7-day dietary shift and ciprofloxacin treatment.

Author information

Department of Biology, Environment and Health, Section Microbiology, Faculty of Pharmacy and Food Sciences, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.
Laboratory of Molecular Microbiology and Antimicrobials, Department of Pathology and Experimental Therapeutics, Faculty of Medicine, University of Barcelona, IDIBELL, Barcelona, Spain.
Academia Europaea-Barcelona Knowledge Hub, Barcelona, Spain.


Gut microbial structure in animals depends on the host, dietary habits and local environment. A random event, dietary change or antibiotic treatment may alter the gut environment with possible repercussions for the bacterial community composition and functionality and ultimately host fitness. The present study was focused on the composition, structure and functionality of gut microbiota in Reticulitermes grassei and the data obtained was compared with sequence surveys of three other Reticulitermes species. Each Reticulitermes species had a significantly different bacterial gut microbiota (pairwise significance tests using the Kolmogorov-Smirnov test), but a similar pattern of distribution (P-test in weighted Unifrac). The core gut microbiota from the analyzed Reticulitermes species contained 16 bacterial operational taxonomic units. Enzymes (KO) were detected from 14 pathways related to carbohydrate metabolism. R. grassei and R. hesperus, based on relative abundance of KO, had the most similar carbohydrate pathway patterns. In addition, we described the gut microbiota and functionality pathways in R. grassei after a 7-day dietary shift and antibiotic (ciprofloxacin) treatment. Both factors, but above all the antibiotic, altered the relative abundance of certain microbial groups, although the changes were not statistically significant (P-test in weighted Unifrac). The cellulose diet enhanced the carbohydrate pathways related to propanoate, butanoate, ascorbate, and glyoxylate metabolism. The antibiotic treatment affected galactose metabolism, the citrate cycle and inositol phosphate metabolism. Those functional changes may be related to changes in the abundance of several bacterial groups. Our findings provide insights into the stability of the gut microbiota in R. grassei and a resilience response to dietary shift or antibiotic treatment disturbance after 7 days.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.

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