Analysis of the Stomach Tissue Microbiome within Florida Manatees, Trichechus manatus latirostris

Hamontree, Samantha
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Florida Southern College
Identification of the microbiome within marine mammals, including sirenians has been the focus of recent research. While previous work has identified the microbiome from the lower gastrointestinal tract (fecal samples) of manatees and dugongs, we sought to examine the microbiome of the upper gastrointestinal tract, specifically the stomach of Florida manatees, Trichechus manatus latirostris. We obtained two stomach tissue samples (one sample from the greater curvature of the stomach and the other from the lesser curvature of the stomach) from three recently deceased Florida manatees in collaboration with the Marine Mammal Pathobiology Laboratory in St. Petersburg, FL between 2013-2016. These samples were stored at -80C until processing, when DNA was extracted from the thawed stomach tissue using the Zymobiomics DNA miniprep kit. Samples were sent for metagenomics sequencing utilizing the V3 and V4 variable regions of 16S rRNA gene at Genewiz (New Jersey, USA). As expected, several species of fermenting microorganisms were found as well as cellulose degrading microorganisms. Statistical tests were implemented to compare bacterial abundance and diversity between manatees and the two tissue sections that were sampled. Here, we are the first to report the microbiome composition inhabiting the upper gastrointestinal tract within any sirenian. While this is the first study to describe the stomach microbiome of Florida manatees, our findings will be available for future studies as a baseline for the microbiome of the upper gastrointestinal tracts of sirenians. Since the composition of the microbiome has been linked to health in other mammals, this research project may provide important information to veterinary care providers.
Honors Thesis Spring 2020
Manatees , Stomach , Microbiome