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Metagenomic Analysis of the Fecal Microbiomes of Wild Asian Elephants Reveals Microflora and Enzymes that Mainly Digest Hemicellulose

Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 2019년 29권 8호 p.1255 ~ 1265
 ( Zhang Chengbo ) - Yunnan Normal University School of Life Science

 ( Xu Bo ) - Yunnan Normal University School of Life Science
 ( Huang Zunxi ) - Yunnan Normal University School of Life Science
 ( Lu Tao ) - Key Laboratory of Yunnan for Biomass Energy and Biotechnology of Environment


To investigate the diversity of gastrointestinal microflora and lignocellulose-degrading enzymes in wild Asian elephants, three of these animals living in the same group were selected for study from the Wild Elephant Valley in the Xishuangbanna Nature Reserve of Yunnan Province, China. Fresh fecal samples from the three wild Asian elephants were analyzed by metagenomic sequencing to study the diversity of their gastrointestinal microbes and cellulolytic enzymes. There were a high abundance of Firmicutes and a higher abundance of hemicellulose-degrading hydrolases than cellulose-degrading hydrolases in the wild Asian elephants. Furthermore, there were a high abundance and a rich diversity of carbohydrate active enzymes (CAZymes) obtained from the gene set annotation of the three samples, with the majority of them showing low identity with the CAZy database entry. About half of the CAZymes had no species source at the phylum or genus level. These indicated that the wild Asian elephants might possess greater ability to digest hemicellulose than cellulose to provide energy, and moreover, the gastrointestinal tracts of these pachyderms might be a potential source of novel efficient lignocellulose-degrading enzymes. Therefore, the exploitation and utilization of these enzyme resources could help us to alleviate the current energy crisis and ensure food security.


Wild Asian elephant; metagenome; gastrointestinal tract; hemicellulose; enzyme resource
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