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Keywords:

  • 16S rRNA gene;
  • cat;
  • gastrointestinal tract;
  • microbiota;
  • bacteria;
  • microbial communities

Abstract

The aim of this study was to describe the microbial communities along the gastrointestinal tract in healthy cats based on analysis of the 16S rRNA gene. Gastrointestinal content (i.e. content from the stomach, duodenum, jejunum, ileum, and colon) was collected from four healthy conventionally raised colony cats and one healthy specific pathogen-free (SPF) cat. Bacterial 16S rRNA genes were amplified using universal bacterial primers and analyzed by comparative sequence analysis. A total of 1008 clones were analyzed and 109 nonredundant 16S rRNA gene sequences were identified. In the four conventionally raised cats, five different bacterial phyla were observed, with sequences predominantly classified in the phylum Firmicutes (68%), followed by Proteobacteria (14%), Bacteroidetes (10%), Fusobacteria (5%), and Actinobacteria (4%). The majority of clones fell within the order Clostridiales (54%), followed by Lactobacillales, Bacteroidales, Campylobacterales, and Fusobacteriales (14%, 11%, 10%, and 6%, respectively). Clostridiales were predominantly affiliated with Clostridium clusters I (58%) and XIVa (27%). The intestinal microbiota of the SPF cat displayed a reduced bacterial diversity, with 98% of all clones classified in the phylum Firmicutes. Further classification showed that the Firmicutes clones belonged exclusively to the class Clostridiales and were predominantly affiliated with Clostridium cluster I.