Biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on the Galapagos archipelago

Roderick I. Mackie, Mathew Rycyk, Rebecca L. Ruemmler, Rustam Aminov, Martin Wikelski

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Abstract

Herbivorous lizards are potentially capable of high digestive efficiency, but the presence of an indigenous microbial population has been implied from measurements of activity rather than directly studied. This study is the first to provide direct biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) from the Galapagos archipelago. In marine iguanas, the stomach and large capacious colon contained ca. 32% and 60%, respectively, of the weight of total gut content. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was ca. 150 and 180 mM, respectively, for marine and land iguanas. Molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate (80.3%, 9.5%, and 3.5%) in land iguana fecal samples were similar to those for marine iguanas. Examination of fecal samples using confocal and transmission electron microscopy, as well as cultivable counts, revealed a dense and diverse population of bacteria, with spores prominent. Total culturable counts of anaerobes (2.22 x 10(8) g(-1) wet weight of fecal material) outnumbered aerobes on average by a factor of ca. 700. Combined, these results strongly support the contention that these unique herbivorous lizards are largely dependent on the presence and metabolic activities of a resident bacterial population in order to hydrolyze and ferment plant polymers that are indigestible to the host.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPhysiological and Biochemical Zoology
Volume77
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)127-138
Number of pages12
ISSN1522-2152
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Animals
  • Bacteria
  • Body Weights and Measures
  • Digestive System Physiological Phenomena
  • Ecuador
  • Fatty Acids
  • Feces
  • Fermentation
  • Gastrointestinal Tract
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Iguanas
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • fatty acid
  • digestion
  • fermentation
  • herbivory
  • lizard
  • microbial activity
  • animal
  • article
  • bacterium
  • chemistry
  • comparative study
  • confocal microscopy
  • digestive function
  • electron microscopy
  • feces
  • gastrointestinal tract
  • histology
  • metabolism
  • microbiology
  • morphometrics
  • pH
  • physiology
  • ultrastructure
  • Digestive Physiology
  • Galapagos Islands
  • Pacific islands
  • Pacific Ocean
  • South America
  • Amblyrhynchus cristatus
  • Amphibia
  • Animalia
  • Bacteria (microorganisms)
  • Conolophus pallidus
  • Iguana
  • Iguania
  • Reptilia
  • Squamata
  • Vertebrata
  • LIZARDS
  • PHYSIOLOGY
  • ZOOLOGY
  • HERBIVOROUS LIZARD
  • POPULATION BIOLOGY
  • BODY-TEMPERATURE
  • SURVIVAL
  • SIZE
  • FIBERS
  • FECUNDITY
  • EVOLUTION
  • MICROBES
  • CRASH
  • Galapagos Archipelago Ecuador, South America Neotropical region
  • fermentative digestion
  • Reptilia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Reptiles, Vertebrates) - Sauria [85408] Amblyrhychus cristatus species iguana common Conolophus pallidus species iguana common
  • 14004, Digestive system - Physiology and biochemistry
  • Ingestion and Assimilation
  • colon digestive system
  • stomach digestive system
  • Digestive System

Cite this

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title = "Biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on the Galapagos archipelago",
abstract = "Herbivorous lizards are potentially capable of high digestive efficiency, but the presence of an indigenous microbial population has been implied from measurements of activity rather than directly studied. This study is the first to provide direct biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) from the Galapagos archipelago. In marine iguanas, the stomach and large capacious colon contained ca. 32{\%} and 60{\%}, respectively, of the weight of total gut content. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was ca. 150 and 180 mM, respectively, for marine and land iguanas. Molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate (80.3{\%}, 9.5{\%}, and 3.5{\%}) in land iguana fecal samples were similar to those for marine iguanas. Examination of fecal samples using confocal and transmission electron microscopy, as well as cultivable counts, revealed a dense and diverse population of bacteria, with spores prominent. Total culturable counts of anaerobes (2.22 x 10(8) g(-1) wet weight of fecal material) outnumbered aerobes on average by a factor of ca. 700. Combined, these results strongly support the contention that these unique herbivorous lizards are largely dependent on the presence and metabolic activities of a resident bacterial population in order to hydrolyze and ferment plant polymers that are indigestible to the host.",
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author = "Mackie, {Roderick I.} and Mathew Rycyk and Ruemmler, {Rebecca L.} and Rustam Aminov and Martin Wikelski",
year = "2004",
doi = "10.1086/383498",
language = "English",
volume = "77",
pages = "127--138",
journal = "Physiological and Biochemical Zoology",
issn = "1522-2152",
publisher = "University of Chicago Press",
number = "1",

}

Biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on the Galapagos archipelago. / Mackie, Roderick I.; Rycyk, Mathew; Ruemmler, Rebecca L.; Aminov, Rustam; Wikelski, Martin.

In: Physiological and Biochemical Zoology, Vol. 77, No. 1, 2004, p. 127-138.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) on the Galapagos archipelago

AU - Mackie, Roderick I.

AU - Rycyk, Mathew

AU - Ruemmler, Rebecca L.

AU - Aminov, Rustam

AU - Wikelski, Martin

PY - 2004

Y1 - 2004

N2 - Herbivorous lizards are potentially capable of high digestive efficiency, but the presence of an indigenous microbial population has been implied from measurements of activity rather than directly studied. This study is the first to provide direct biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) from the Galapagos archipelago. In marine iguanas, the stomach and large capacious colon contained ca. 32% and 60%, respectively, of the weight of total gut content. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was ca. 150 and 180 mM, respectively, for marine and land iguanas. Molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate (80.3%, 9.5%, and 3.5%) in land iguana fecal samples were similar to those for marine iguanas. Examination of fecal samples using confocal and transmission electron microscopy, as well as cultivable counts, revealed a dense and diverse population of bacteria, with spores prominent. Total culturable counts of anaerobes (2.22 x 10(8) g(-1) wet weight of fecal material) outnumbered aerobes on average by a factor of ca. 700. Combined, these results strongly support the contention that these unique herbivorous lizards are largely dependent on the presence and metabolic activities of a resident bacterial population in order to hydrolyze and ferment plant polymers that are indigestible to the host.

AB - Herbivorous lizards are potentially capable of high digestive efficiency, but the presence of an indigenous microbial population has been implied from measurements of activity rather than directly studied. This study is the first to provide direct biochemical and microbiological evidence for fermentative digestion in free-living land iguanas (Conolophus pallidus) and marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) from the Galapagos archipelago. In marine iguanas, the stomach and large capacious colon contained ca. 32% and 60%, respectively, of the weight of total gut content. Total volatile fatty acid concentration was ca. 150 and 180 mM, respectively, for marine and land iguanas. Molar proportions of acetate, propionate, and butyrate (80.3%, 9.5%, and 3.5%) in land iguana fecal samples were similar to those for marine iguanas. Examination of fecal samples using confocal and transmission electron microscopy, as well as cultivable counts, revealed a dense and diverse population of bacteria, with spores prominent. Total culturable counts of anaerobes (2.22 x 10(8) g(-1) wet weight of fecal material) outnumbered aerobes on average by a factor of ca. 700. Combined, these results strongly support the contention that these unique herbivorous lizards are largely dependent on the presence and metabolic activities of a resident bacterial population in order to hydrolyze and ferment plant polymers that are indigestible to the host.

KW - Animals

KW - Bacteria

KW - Body Weights and Measures

KW - Digestive System Physiological Phenomena

KW - Ecuador

KW - Fatty Acids

KW - Feces

KW - Fermentation

KW - Gastrointestinal Tract

KW - Hydrogen-Ion Concentration

KW - Iguanas

KW - Microscopy, Confocal

KW - Microscopy, Electron

KW - fatty acid

KW - digestion

KW - fermentation

KW - herbivory

KW - lizard

KW - microbial activity

KW - animal

KW - article

KW - bacterium

KW - chemistry

KW - comparative study

KW - confocal microscopy

KW - digestive function

KW - electron microscopy

KW - feces

KW - gastrointestinal tract

KW - histology

KW - metabolism

KW - microbiology

KW - morphometrics

KW - pH

KW - physiology

KW - ultrastructure

KW - Digestive Physiology

KW - Galapagos Islands

KW - Pacific islands

KW - Pacific Ocean

KW - South America

KW - Amblyrhynchus cristatus

KW - Amphibia

KW - Animalia

KW - Bacteria (microorganisms)

KW - Conolophus pallidus

KW - Iguana

KW - Iguania

KW - Reptilia

KW - Squamata

KW - Vertebrata

KW - LIZARDS

KW - PHYSIOLOGY

KW - ZOOLOGY

KW - HERBIVOROUS LIZARD

KW - POPULATION BIOLOGY

KW - BODY-TEMPERATURE

KW - SURVIVAL

KW - SIZE

KW - FIBERS

KW - FECUNDITY

KW - EVOLUTION

KW - MICROBES

KW - CRASH

KW - Galapagos Archipelago Ecuador, South America Neotropical region

KW - fermentative digestion

KW - Reptilia Vertebrata Chordata Animalia (Animals, Chordates, Nonhuman Vertebrates, Reptiles, Vertebrates) - Sauria [85408] Amblyrhychus cristatus species iguana common Conolophus pallidus species iguana common

KW - 14004, Digestive system - Physiology and biochemistry

KW - Ingestion and Assimilation

KW - colon digestive system

KW - stomach digestive system

KW - Digestive System

U2 - 10.1086/383498

DO - 10.1086/383498

M3 - Journal article

VL - 77

SP - 127

EP - 138

JO - Physiological and Biochemical Zoology

JF - Physiological and Biochemical Zoology

SN - 1522-2152

IS - 1

ER -