Microbiome, Aging, Bats, Myotis myotis, Metabolism, Proteobacteria, Comparative biology
A changing microbiome has been linked to biological aging in mice and humans, suggesting a possible role of gut flora in pathogenic aging phenotypes. Many bat species have exceptional longevity given their body size and some can live up to ten times longer than expected with little signs of aging. This study explores the anal microbiome of the exceptionally long-lived Myotis myotis bat, investigating bacterial composition in both adult and juvenile bats to determine if the microbiome changes with age in a wild, long-lived non-model organism, using non-lethal sampling. The anal microbiome was sequenced using metabarcoding in more than 50 individuals, finding no significant difference between the composition of juvenile and adult bats, suggesting that age-related microbial shifts previously observed in other mammals may not be present in Myotis myotis. Functional gene categories, inferred from metabarcoding data, expressed in the M. myotis microbiome were categorized identifying pathways involved in metabolism, DNA repair and oxidative phosphorylation. We highlight an abundance of ‘Proteobacteria’ relative to other mammals, with similar patterns compared to other bat microbiomes. Our results suggest that M. myotis may have a relatively stable, unchanging microbiome playing a role in their extended ‘health spans’ with the advancement of age, and suggest a potential link between microbiome and sustained, powered flight.
Hughes, Graham M.; John Leech; Sebastien J. Puechmaille; Jose V. Lopez; and Emma C. Teeling. 2018. "Is There a Link between Aging and Microbiome Diversity in Exceptional Mammalian Longevity?." PeerJ 6, (e4174): 1-21. doi:10.7717/peerj.4174.