Impact of stress on the gut microbiome of free-ranging western lowland gorillas

Klára Vlčková, Kathryn Shutt-Phillip, Michael Heisterman, Barbora Pafčo, Klára J. Petrželkov, Angelique Todd, David Modrý, Karen E. Nelson, Brenda A. Wilson, Rebecca M. Stumpf, Bryan A. White, Steven R. Leigh, Andres Gomez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Exposure to stressors can negatively impact the mammalian gastrointestinal microbiome (GIM). Here, we used 454 pyrosequencing of 16S rRNA bacterial gene amplicons to evaluate the impact of physiological stress, as evidenced by faecal glucocorticoid metabolites (FGCM; ng/g), on the GIM composition of free-ranging western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Although we found no relationship between GIM alpha diversity (H) and FGCM levels, we observed a significant relationship between the relative abundances of particular bacterial taxa and FGCM levels. Specifically, members of the family Anaerolineaceae (ρ=0.4, FDR q=0.01), genus Clostridium cluster XIVb (ρ =0.35, FDR q=0.02) and genus Oscillibacter (ρ =0.35, FDR q=0.02) were positively correlated with FGCM levels. Thus, while exposure to stressors appears to be associated with minor changes in the gorilla GIM, the consequences of these changes are unknown. Our results may have implications for conservation biology as well as for our overall understanding of factors influencing the non-human primate GIM.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number000587
Pages (from-to)40-44
Number of pages5
JournalMicrobiology (United Kingdom)
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Institute of Vertebrate Biology, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic (RVO: 68081766); by the project ‘CEITEC – Central European Institute of Technology’ (CZ.1.05/ 1.100/02.0068) from the European Regional Development Fund, and co-financed from the European Social Fund and the State Budget of the Czech Republic (project OPVK CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0300); a NERC/ ESRC interdisciplinary PhD studentship; the Primate Society of Great Britain; the International Primatological Society; the Bio-Social Society UK; Rufford Small Grants for Nature Conservation; and the US National Science Foundation (NSF BCS) 0935347.


  • Bacteria
  • Faecal glucocorticoid metabolites
  • Gastrointestinal microbiome
  • Stress
  • Western lowland gorilla

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