Isolation and characterization of chitin-degrading micro-organisms from the faeces of Goeldi's monkey, Callimico goeldii

Authors

  • C. Macdonald,

    1. School of Life, Sport & Social Science, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
    2. Animal Department, Edinburgh Zoo, Edinburgh, UK
    Current affiliation:
    1. Life Sciences Department, Twycross Zoo, Warwickshire, UK
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  • S. Barden,

    1. School of Life, Sport & Social Science, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
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  • S. Foley

    Corresponding author
    1. School of Life, Sport & Social Science, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK
    • Correspondence

      Sophie Foley, School of Life, Sport & Social Science, Edinburgh Napier University, EH11 4BN, Edinburgh, UK. E-mail: s.foley@napier.ac.uk

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Abstract

Aims

The objective of this study was the isolation and characterization of chitin-degrading micro-organisms from the faeces of the insectivorous Goeldi's monkey, Callimico goeldii.

Methods and Results

Faeces samples were screened for chitin-degrading bacteria using basal medium in which chitin was included as the carbon and energy source. Of fifteen bacterial isolates with chitin-degrading activity, fourteen were also capable of degrading cellulose. All isolates were either aerobes or facultative anaerobes.

Conclusions

Phylogenetic analyses of those isolates exhibiting strongest activity, as determined by the most distinctive zones of clearing in chitin-supplemented medium, were identified as Cellulosimicrobium spp., Arthrobacter spp., Staphylococcus spp. and Enterobacteriaceae.

Significance and Impact of the Study

This study reports on the isolation of chitin-degrading microflora from nonhuman primates. Considering that chitin and cellulose are the most abundant naturally occurring polymers, it is of interest to note that the majority of isolates are capable of digesting both substrates. This may be of significance given that omnivorous primates live in seasonal environments, where the availability of food items varies with the seasons. Furthermore, given the presence of a chitin-degrading microflora, this may have implications, in terms of the inclusion of fungi and/or insects in the diets of these animals in captivity, whether as part of medical research or conservation programmes.

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