Environment and diet are key factors which shape the microbiome of organisms. There is also a disparity between captive and wild animals of the same species, presumably because of the change in diet. Being able to reverse the microbiome to the wild type is thus particularly important for the reintroduction efforts of Critically Endangered animals. The Javan slow loris (Nycticebus javanicus) is a suitable model, being kept in the thousands within rescue centres throughout Southeast Asia. With next-generation sequencing, we show how a naturalistic diet impacts the gut microbiome of captive slow lorises (Primates: Nycticebus). A comparison of the microbiome of wild animals with captive animals that had been fed a standard captive or improved diet reveals strong microbiome differences between wild and captive animals; however, diet changes failed to alter the microbiome of captive populations significantly. Bifidobacterium was the most abundant genus in wild animals (46.7%) while Bacteroides (11.6%) and Prevotella (18.9%) were the most abundant in captive animals fed the captive and improved diets, respectively. Correlation analyses of nutrients with microbial taxa suggest important implications in using nutrition to suppress potential pathogens, with soluble fibre and water-soluble carbohydrates both being associated with opposing microbiome profiles. The improved diet significantly increased microbe diversity, which exemplifies the importance of high fibre diets; however, wild individuals had lower diversity, which contradicts recent studies. Detection of methanogens appeared to be dependent on diet and whether the animals were living in captivity or in the wild. This study highlights the potential of nutrition in modulating the microbiome of animals prior to release. Unexpectedly, the results were not as significant as has been suggested in recent studies.
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