The rat is an important model animal used frequently in biological researches exploring the correlations between gut microbiome and a wide array of diseases. In this study, we used an extended ancestral-state reconstruction algorithm to predict the functional capabilities of the rat gastrointestinal microbiome. Our results indicate an apparent tendency toward metabolic heterogeneity along the longitudinal and transverse axes of the rat gastrointestinal tract (GIT). This heterogeneity was suggested by the enriched small-molecule transport activity and amino acid metabolism in the upper GIT, the aerobic energy metabolism in the stomach and the mucolysis-related metabolism in the lower GIT mucus layer. In contrast to prior results, many functional overlaps were observed when the gastrointestinal microbiomes of different hosts were compared. These overlaps implied that although both the biogeographic location and host genotype were prominent driving forces in shaping the gastrointestinal microbiota, the microbiome functions were similar across hosts when observed under similar physicochemical conditions at identical anatomical sites. Our work effectively complements the rat microbial biogeography dataset we released in 2017 and, thus, contributes to a better understanding and prediction of disease-related alterations in microbial community function.
Read more at: MDPI