Characterisation of the effect of day length, and associated differences in dietary intake, on the gut microbiota of Soay sheep

Nadine A. Thomas, Andrea M. Olvera-Ramírez, Leticia Abecia, Clare L. Adam, Joan E. Edwards, Georgina F. Cox, Patricia A. Findlay, Elodie Destables, Tracy A. Wood, Neil R. McEwan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Differences in the rumen bacterial community have been previously reported for Soay sheep housed under different day length conditions. This study extends this previous investigation to other organs of the digestive tract, as well as the analysis of ciliated protozoa and anaerobic fungi. The detectable concentrations of ciliated protozoa and anaerobic fungi decreased with increased day length in both the rumen and large colon, unlike those of bacteria where no effect was observed. Conversely, bacterial community composition was affected by day length in both the rumen and large colon, but the community composition of the detectable ciliated protozoa and anaerobic fungi was not affected. Day length-associated differences in the bacterial community composition extended to all of the organs examined, with the exception of the duodenum and the jejunum. It is proposed that differences in rumen fill and ruminal ‘by-pass’ nutrients together with endocrinological changes cause the observed effects of day length on the different gut microbial communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)889-896
Number of pages8
JournalArchives of Microbiology
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2019



  • Anaerobic fungi
  • Bacteria
  • Ciliated protozoa
  • Day length
  • Digestive tract
  • Soay sheep

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