Oct 24, 2018

Gut microbiota and phytoestrogen-associated infertility in southern white rhinoceros

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Candace L WilliamsChristopher W Tubbs


With recent poaching of southern white rhinoceros (Ceratotherium simum simum; SWR) reaching record levels, the need for a robust assurance population is urgent. However, the global captive SWR population is not currently self-sustaining due to the reproductive failure of captive-born females. Dietary phytoestrogens have been proposed to play a role in this phenomenon, and recent work has demonstrated a negative relationship between diet estrogenicity and fertility of captive-born female SWR. To further examine this relationship, we compared gut microbial communities, fecal phytoestrogens, and fertility of SWR to another rhinoceros species-the greater one-horned rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis; GOHR), which consumes a similar diet but exhibits high levels of fertility in captivity. Using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing and mass spectrometry, we identified a species-specific fecal microbiota and three dominant fecal phytoestrogen profiles. These profiles exhibited varying levels of estrogenicity when tested in an in vitro estrogen receptor activation assay for both rhinoceros species, with profiles dominated by the microbial metabolite, equol, stimulating the highest levels of receptor activation. Finally, we found that SWR fertili...Continue Reading

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Mentioned in this Paper

Metabolic Process, Cellular
Rhinoceros unicornis
Infertility Study
Mass Spectrometry
Metabolic Pathway

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