The golden jackal (Canis aureus), is a medium canid carnivore widespread throughout the Mediterranean region and expanding into Europe. This species thrives near human settlements and is implicated in zoonoses such as rabies. This study explores for the first time, the golden jackal fecal microbiota. We analyzed 111 fecal samples of wild golden jackals using 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing the connection of the microbiome to animal characteristics, burden of pathogens and geographic and climate characteristics. We further compared the fecal microbiota of the golden jackal to the black-backed jackal and domestic dog. We found that the golden jackal fecal microbiota is dominated by the phyla Bacteroidota, Fusobacteriota and Firmicutes. The golden jackal fecal microbiota was associated with different variables, including geographic region, age-class, exposure to rabies oral vaccine, fecal parasites and toxoplasmosis. A remarkable variation in the relative abundance of different taxa was also found associated with different variables, such as age-class. Linear discriminant analysis effect size (LEfSe) analysis found abundance of specific taxons in each region, Megasphaera genus in group 1, Megamonas genus in group 2 and Bacteroides coprocola species in group 3. We also found a different composition between the fecal microbiota of the golden jackal, blacked-backed jackal and the domestic dog. Furthermore, LEfSe analysis found abundance of Fusobacterium and Bacteroides genera in the golden jackal, Clostridia class in blacked-backed jackal and Megamonas genus in domestic dog. The golden jackal fecal microbiota is influenced by multiple factors including host traits and pathogen burden. The characterization of the microbiota of this thriving species may aid in mapping its spread and proximity to human settlements. Moreover, understanding the jackal microbiota could inform the study of potential animal and human health risks and inform control measures.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We thank the rangers of the INPA for supporting with obtaining the GJ specimens. We would like to thank Amit Dolev, Ofer Steinitz and Gal Vine with their help in obtaining geographical data. We would like to thank Dr. Stefan Green at Rush Medical College (Chicago, US) for performing the sequencing of the samples. We particularly thank the Kimron veterinary institute and respective laboratories for their help and support with testing the GJ samples for various pathogens. A special thanks to Dr. Boris Yakobson for supporting this research on behalf of the Kimron veterinary institute.
© 2023, BioMed Central Ltd.
- 16S rRNA amplicon sequencing
- Fecal microbiota
- Golden jackal (Canis aureus)
- Zoonotic diseases