Microbiota fingerprints within the oral cavity of cetaceans as indicators for population biomonitoring

Pedro Soares-Castro, Helena Maria Araújo Rodrigues, Filipa Godoy-Vitorino, Marisa Ferreira, Pablo Covelo, Alfredo López, José Vingada, Catarina Eira, Pedro Miguel Santos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)


The composition of mammalian microbiota has been related with the host health status. In this study, we assessed the oral microbiome of 3 cetacean species most commonly found stranded in Iberian Atlantic waters (Delphinus delphis, Stenella coeruleoalba and Phocoena phocoena), using 16S rDNA-amplicon metabarcoding. All oral microbiomes were dominated by Proteobacteria, Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes and Fusobacteria bacteria, which were also predominant in the oral cavity of Tursiops truncatus. A Constrained Canonical Analysis (CCA) showed that the major factors shaping the composition of 38 oral microbiomes (p-value < 0.05) were: (i) animal species and (ii) age class, segregating adults and juveniles. The correlation analysis also grouped the microbiomes by animal stranding location and health status. Similar discriminatory patterns were detected using the data from a previous study on Tursiops truncatus, indicating that this correlation approach may facilitate data comparisons between different studies on several cetacean species. This study identified a total of 15 bacterial genera and 27 OTUs discriminating between the observed CCA groups, which can be further explored as microbiota fingerprints to develop (i) specific diagnostic assays for cetacean population conservation and (ii) bio-monitoring approaches to assess the health of marine ecosystems from the Iberian Atlantic basin, using cetaceans as bioindicators.
Original languageEnglish
Article number13679
Number of pages15
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 23 Sept 2019
Externally publishedYes


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