Title page for ETD etd-04222009-114403

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Szekely, Brian
Author's Email Address bszekely@vt.edu
URN etd-04222009-114403
Title Determining fecal bacterial profiles of a human-habituated wild chimpanzee population in Mahale Mountains National Park, Tanzania.
Degree Master of Science
Department Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Kaur, Taranjit Committee Chair
Hagedorn, Charles III Committee Member
Huckle, William R. Committee Member
Singh, Jatinder Committee Member
  • T-RFLP
  • Gut flora
  • chimpanzee
  • endangered species
  • fecal flora
Date of Defense 2009-05-04
Availability unrestricted
Intestinal flora of wild chimpanzee has not been studied. Fecal flora analyses currently give insight to this environment. We collected feces from twelve human-habituated wild chimpanzees in each of three age groups: four juveniles, four sub-adults, and four adults. We analyzed fecal samples using Terminal-Restriction Fragment Length Polymorphism (T-RFLP) of amplified 16S rRNA genes to determine bacterial diversity present. Between 1 and 14 terminal-restriction fragments (T-RFs) were observed in each sample. A total of 26 unique T-RFs were produced from the samples and ranged in size from 92 to 837 base pairs (bps). Twenty-four of these T-RFs corresponded to five bacterial phyla: Actinobacteria, Bacteroidetes, Firmicutes, Mollicutes, and Proteobacteria, as well as uncultured and unidentified bacterial species. The remaining T-RFs corresponded solely to uncultured or unidentified bacteria. Firmicutes was the most common phylum, observed in 11 of the samples. Bacteroidetes was the second-most common phylum, detected in 8 of the samples. Principal Components Analysis (PCA) revealed a discrete clustering of 10 samples when looking at components one and two, and a clustering of 11 samples when looking at component three. These three components accounted for 72.5% of the variation within the data. Morisita indices were computed to compare T-RF profiles of two samples at a time, and were between 0 and 0.886. Results indicated that some fecal bacterial profiles were similar in the study group, but ultimately varied between samples when compared two at a time. Specific diet, physiology, and environmental reservoir exposure may play large roles in shaping such profiles.
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