Gut microbiome is vertically transmitted by maternal lactation at birth
in mammals. In this study, we investigated the gut microbiome and diet
compositions of muskox, a large herbivore in the high Arctic. From
muskox feces in Ella Island, East Greenland, we compared the microbiota
composition using bacterial 16S rRNA gene sequencing and the dietary
compositions of six female adults and four calves have been compared.
Firmicutes was the most abundant bacterial phylum in both adults and
calves, comprising 94.36% and 94.03%, respectively. There were
significant differences in the relative abundance of two Firmicutes
families: the adults were mainly dominated by Ruminococcaceae (73.90%),
while the calves were dominated by both Ruminococcaceae (56.25%) and
Lachnospiraceae (24.00%). Stable isotope analysis on the feces and
eight referential plant samples in the study area showed that both
adults and calves had similar ranges of 13C and 15N, possibly derived
from the dominant diet plants of Empetrum nigrum and Salix glauca.
Despite the similar diets, the different gut microbiome compositions in
muskox adults and calves indicate that the gut microbiome of the calves
may not be fully colonized yet as much as the one of the adults.