Variation in gut microbiome structure across the annual hibernation cycle in a wild primate.

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The gut microbiome can mediate host metabolism, including facilitating energy-saving strategies like hibernation. The dwarf lemurs of Madagascar (Cheirogaleus spp.) are the only obligate hibernators among primates. They also hibernate in the subtropics, and unlike temperate hibernators, fatten by converting fruit sugars to lipid deposits, torpor at relatively warm temperatures, and forage for a generalized diet after emergence. Despite these ecological differences, we might expect hibernation to shape the gut microbiome in similar ways across mammals. We, therefore, compare gut microbiome profiles, determined by amplicon sequencing of rectal swabs, in wild furry-eared dwarf lemurs (C. crossleyi) during fattening, hibernation, and after emergence. The dwarf lemurs exhibited reduced gut microbial diversity during fattening, intermediate diversity and increased community homogenization during hibernation, and greatest diversity after emergence. The Mycoplasma genus was enriched during fattening, whereas the Aerococcaceae and Actinomycetaceae families, and not Akkermansia, bloomed during hibernation. As expected, the dwarf lemurs showed seasonal reconfigurations of the gut microbiome; however, the patterns of microbial diversity diverged from temperate hibernators, and better resembled the shifts associated with dietary fruits and sugars in primates and model organisms. Our results thus highlight the potential for dwarf lemurs to probe microbiome-mediated metabolism in primates under contrasting conditions.





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Greene, Lydia K, Jean-Basile Andriambeloson, Hoby A Rasoanaivo, Anne D Yoder and Marina B Blanco (2022). Variation in gut microbiome structure across the annual hibernation cycle in a wild primate. FEMS microbiology ecology, 98(7). p. fiac070. 10.1093/femsec/fiac070 Retrieved from

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Lydia Greene

Dir, Acad Engagement for Acad Discipline

I am currently the Director of Academic Engagement for Natural & Quantitative Sciences in Duke's Academic Advising Center. My work involves mentoring and advising undergraduates pursuing opportunities and careers in the STEM fields, and working with campus partners to develop more inclusive STEM programming.

My own research is on the ecology of lemurs in Madagascar, with a central focus on mechanisms of local adaptation in sifakas. Prior to my role as NQS DAE, I was a postdoctoral associate at the Duke Lemur Center and graduate student in Duke's Ecology Program. My dissertation research was on the role of the gut microbiome in facilitating folivory as an ecological strategy in lemurs. 


Anne Daphne Yoder

Braxton Craven Distinguished Professor of Evolutionary Biology

My work integrates field inventory activities with molecular phylogenetic techniques and geospatial analysis to investigate Madagascar, an area of the world that is biologically complex, poorly understood, and urgently threatened. Madagascar has been designated as one of the most critical geographic priorities for conservation action, retaining less than 10% of the natural habitats that existed before human colonization. It is critical that information be obtained as quickly as possible to document the biota that occurs in the remaining and highly threatened forested areas of western Madagascar, to gain an understanding of the evolutionary processes and associated distributional patterns that have shaped this diversity, and to use this information to help set conservation priorities. Phylogenetic and biogeographic analysis of Malagasy vertebrates, each with unique life-history and dispersal characteristics, are conducted to identify areas of high endemism potentially associated with underlying geological features, and also to test for the role that geographic features have played in generating patterns of vertebrate diversity and distribution. My lab also has a significant focus on capacity-building through the education and training of both American and Malagasy students. Research opportunities for American graduate students are enhanced by the formation of Malagasy/American partnerships.

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