Increased anthropogenic activities such as urbanisation and the bushmeat trade increase the
degree of contact humans have with non-human primates. Zoonotic pathogens have increased
the risk of disease emergence significantly. Non-human primates are major reservoirs of
zoonotic diseases. The close relatedness of primates, including humans, increases chances of
sharing harmful pathogens.
The gut microbiome has been shown to contribute substantially to the health of its host. The
composition of gut microbes is strongly affected by the diet of the host. The diet of the
Southern Lesser Galago (Galago moholi) shows vast changes throughout the seasons. With
the seasonal changes affecting diet and the continuous growth of human activities within their
natural habitats, there is a great risk for transmission of zoonotic pathogens to occur between
G. moholi and humans. This study investigated the effects that changes in season had on the
gut microbiome of the Southern Lesser Galago (G. moholi) in isolated populations.
In order to assess the gut microbiome, a next generation sequencing approach was taken. Ion
Torrent technology was used to sequence the 16S rRNA gene regions in order to quantify the
diversity and abundance of the bacterial taxa. The hypervariable regions of the 16S rRNA
gene were assessed in terms of the abundance and diversity of bacteria present.
The four major phyla present were Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and
Actinobacteria. The results showed only slight significances in variation in the taxonomic
bacteria between seasons. However, the dominance of bacterial species from phylum
Proteobacteria in summer and phylum Firmicutes in winter were indicative of shifting diets.
Of the bacteria present, several potentially pathogenic genera were identified. The
hypervariable region V3 proved to be the most consistent after an assessment of the 16S
sequencing data from each individual. Conversely, hypervariable regions V2 and V9 proved
to be the least informative.
The results indicate the diversity and composition of the microbial community during
seasonal changes. These findings form a basis for future studies to assess gut health in