A myriad of factors can influence the gut microbiota composition of laboratory rats and mice: diet, stress, circadian rhythm, vendor source, how they are housed, and more. Since different gut microbiota compositions can elicit different phenotypes under otherwise similar experimental conditions, understanding what shapes the rodent microbiome is becoming increasingly important for researchers.
The husbandry of laboratory animals is highly variable between facilities. Different practices may elicit effects on the microbiome, in turn contributing to lack of reproducibility between institutions. However, there are only a few studies on how different cage types, bedding materials, and chow diets affect the gut microbiota, such as this new study out of University of Missouri.
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