Gut microbiota in wild and captive Guizhou snub-nosed monkeys, Rhinopithecus brelichi

Vanessa L. Hale*, Chia L. Tan, Kefeng Niu, Yeqin Yang, Qikun Zhang, Rob Knight, Katherine R. Amato

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


Many colobine species—including the endangered Guizhou snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus brelichi) are difficult to maintain in captivity and frequently exhibit gastrointestinal (GI) problems. GI problems are commonly linked to alterations in the gut microbiota, which lead us to examine the gut microbial communities of wild and captive R. brelichi. We used high-throughput sequencing of the 16S rRNA gene to compare the gut microbiota of wild (N = 7) and captive (N = 8) R. brelichi. Wild monkeys exhibited increased gut microbial diversity based on the Chao1 but not Shannon diversity metric and greater relative abundances of bacteria in the Lachnospiraceae and Ruminococcaceae families. Microbes in these families digest complex plant materials and produce butyrate, a short chain fatty acid critical to colonocyte health. Captive monkeys had greater relative abundances of Prevotella and Bacteroides species, which degrade simple sugars and carbohydrates, like those present in fruits and cornmeal, two staples of the captive R. brelichi diet. Captive monkeys also had a greater abundance of Akkermansia species, a microbe that can thrive in the face of host malnutrition. Taken together, these findings suggest that poor health in captive R. brelichi may be linked to diet and an altered gut microbiota.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22989
JournalAmerican journal of primatology
Issue number10-11
StatePublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Guizhou snub-nosed monkey
  • Rhinopithecus brelichi
  • captivity
  • gut microbiota

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Animal Science and Zoology


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