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Geographical location influences the composition of the gut microbiota in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) at a fine spatial scale

Goertz, Sarah; de Menezes, Alexandre B.; Birtles, Richard J.; Fenn, Jonathan; Lowe, Ann E.; MacColl, Andrew D.C.; Poulin, Benoit; Young, Stuart; Bradley, Janette E.; Taylor, Christopher H.


Sarah Goertz

Alexandre B. de Menezes

Richard J. Birtles

Jonathan Fenn

Ann E. Lowe

Professor of Evolutionary Ecology

Benoit Poulin

Stuart Young

Janette E. Bradley


The composition of the mammalian gut microbiota can be influenced by a multitude of environmental variables such as diet and infections. Studies investigating the effect of these variables on gut microbiota composition often sample across multiple separate populations and habitat types. In this study we explore how variation in the gut microbiota of the house mouse (Mus musculus domesticus) on the Isle of May, a small island off the east coast of Scotland, is associated with environmental and biological factors. Our study focuses on the effects of environmental variables, specifically trapping location and surrounding vegetation, as well as the host variables sex, age, body weight and endoparasite infection, on the gut microbiota composition across a fine spatial scale in a freely interbreeding population. We found that differences in gut microbiota composition were significantly associated with the trapping location of the host, even across this small spatial scale. Sex of the host showed a weak association with microbiota composition. Whilst sex and location could be identified as playing an important role in the compositional variation of the gut microbiota, 75% of the variation remains unexplained. Whereas other rodent studies have found associations between gut microbiota composition and age of the host or parasite infections, the present study could not clearly establish these associations. We conclude that fine spatial scales are important when considering gut microbiota composition and investigating differences among individuals.


Goertz, S., de Menezes, A. B., Birtles, R. J., Fenn, J., Lowe, A. E., MacColl, A. D., …Taylor, C. H. (2019). Geographical location influences the composition of the gut microbiota in wild house mice (Mus musculus domesticus) at a fine spatial scale. PLoS ONE, 14(9), Article e0222501.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 2, 2019
Online Publication Date Sep 26, 2019
Publication Date Sep 26, 2019
Deposit Date Sep 26, 2019
Publicly Available Date Sep 26, 2019
Journal PLoS ONE
Electronic ISSN 1932-6203
Publisher Public Library of Science
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 14
Issue 9
Article Number e0222501
Keywords General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology; General Agricultural and Biological Sciences; General Medicine
Public URL
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