猫咪通过其臀部里的细菌进行交流与沟通。
Cats Communicate with the Help of Bacteria Living in Their Butts
1248字
2019-12-15 10:26
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火星译客

劳伦·萨拉·麦基

Microbiology, Biochemistry, and Agricultural Science

微生物学,生物化学,农业科学

KTH Royal Institute of Technology

英国皇家理工学院

December 1, 2019

2019年12月1日

It’s becoming ever clearer that we live in a microbial world. By now, we are well aware¥PCIIYzyZ1jb¥ that microbes play important roles in digestion, training the immune system, and protection from pathogens. Although many studies have been done in model organisms like mice, some researchers are now asking similar questions about the microbiota of other animals in the hopes that this could help us take better care of our furry friends.

我们生活在一个微生物的世界,这一点变得越来越清楚。到目前为止,我们很清楚微生物在消化、训练免疫系统和抵御病原体方面起着重要作用。虽然许多研究都是在像老鼠这样的生物模型上进行的,但一些研究人员现在也对其他动物的微生物群提出了类似的问题,希望这能帮助我们更好地照顾我们毛茸茸的朋友。

KittyBiome, a crowd-funded research platform, was started because, as vets and pet owners know, domestic cats suffer from a lot of digestive issues. And because we simply don’t know enough about cat digestion, it’s hard for vets to recommend diets or even medication that can help in the long term. Scientist Jonathan Eisen has said that the idea for KittyBiome came out of discussions at the University of California (UC) Davis Citizen Microbiology meeting, and was developed by microbial ecologist Holly Ganz. Now, their group is showing just how much the microbiome does for cats.

KittyBiome是一个众筹研究平台,成立的原因是,正如兽医和宠物主人所知,家猫有很多消化问题。由于我们对猫的消化系统了解得不够,兽医很难推荐长期有效的饮食甚至药物。科学家Jonathan Eisen说,KittyBiome的想法来自于加州大学戴维斯市民微生物学会议的讨论,是由微生物生态学家Holly Ganz提出的。现在,他们的小组正在展示这种微生物对猫的影响。

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Photo by Andrew Umansky on Unsplash

照片由Andrew Umansky提供

The group at UC Davis was keen to research the cat gut microbiome, and they decided to pursue an unconventional route to fund their research, using Kickstarter to seek help from the general public. Ganz is one of the authors of a report on how crowdfunding research can fill in funding gaps when resources from organisations like the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are hard to come by. 

加州大学戴维斯分校的研究小组热衷于研究猫肠道菌群,于是他们决定采用一种非传统的方式来资助他们的研究,利用Kickstarter向公众寻求帮助。Ganz是一份报告的作者之一,该报告指出,当国家卫生研究院(NIH)等机构的资源难以获得时,众筹研究如何填补资金缺口。

KittyBiome reached their funding goal, and involved their citizen scientist backers in the program by asking them to send cat poop samples for sequencing. The team set out with the goal of studying the guts of at least 1000 cats, to see how much variation there is between different cats; researchers want to compare cats living in houses, cats in shelters, and feral cats, as well as cats with different health conditions.

KittyBiome实现了他们的资助目标,并让他们的公民科学家支持者参与到这个项目中来,要求他们把猫的粪便样本送去测序。研究小组的目标是研究至少1000只猫的内脏,看看不同猫之间的差异有多大;研究人员想要比较住在房子里的猫,住在避难所的猫,野猫,以及有不同健康状况的猫。

“A lot of cats and kittens with chronic diarrhea are euthanized, and if we could come up with something to help counteract this, we could be saving lives.”

“很多患有慢性腹泻的猫都被安乐死了,如果我们能想出一些办法来解决这个问题,我们就能挽救它们的生命。”

Ganz, the lead scientist on the KittyBiome project, has said that she is fascinated by the microbes found in cat guts and their a/nal glands and how these microbes might be linked to social behavior. Ganz hopes to use the research program to make real improvements to animal welfare: “A lot of cats and kittens with chronic diarrhea are euthanized, and if we could come up with something to help counteract this, we could be saving lives.”

猫咪群落项目的首席科学家甘兹说,她对猫内脏和a/nal腺中发现的微生物以及这些微生物与社会行为的关系很感兴趣。甘兹希望利用这个研究项目来真正改善动物福利:“许多患有慢性腹泻的猫被安乐死,如果我们能想出一些办法来帮助解决这个问题,我们就可以挽救生命。”

Research under the KittyBiome umbrella has often been directed by the types of samples sent to the scientists by pet owners and animal healthcare professionals, leading to pretty diverse investigations into feline physiology. For some of the first KittyBiome-funded experiments, veterinarian Leah Isaacson expressed the a/nal sacs of a male Bengal cat as part of a regular health check-up. The cat’s secretions were sent to researchers at UC Davis.

在猫咪群落的保护伞下进行的研究通常是由宠物主人和动物保健专家寄给科学家的样本类型来指导的,这导致了对猫生理学的各种各样的调查。在kittybiomo资助的首批实验中,兽医利亚•艾萨克森(Leah Isaacson)对一只雄性孟加拉猫进行了a/nal检查,作为定期健康检查的一部分。猫的分泌物被送到加州大学戴维斯分校的研究人员那里。

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Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash

照片由Paul Hannaoka提供

The scientists used genetic a/nalyses to identify the bacterial species present in a/nal sac secretions. They found that the microbial community in this organ is far less diverse than the feline digestive systems that have been investigated, where hundreds of species across dozens of genera have been found. In the Bengal cat study, 98% of the bacteria in the a/nal sac came from just six genera. Just three types of bacteria that were abundant in the genetic profile of the secretions could also be grown in lab cultures – Bacteroides fragilisTessaracoccus sp. UCD-MLA, and Finegoldia magna.

科学家们用基因a/nalyses来鉴定存在于a/nal囊分泌物中的细菌种类。他们发现,这个器官中的微生物群落远不如研究过的猫科消化系统的多样性,后者发现了几十个属的数百种物种。在孟加拉猫的研究中,a/nal囊中98%的细菌来自6个属。只有三种在分泌物的遗传图谱中丰富的细菌也可以在实验室培养中生长——脆弱拟杆菌、Tessaracoccus sp. uc - mla和Finegoldia magna。

This is a strong indication that at least some of the stinky molecules in cat spray are produced by bacteria.

这是一个强有力的证据,表明至少有一些猫喷雾剂中的臭分子是由细菌产生的。

Researchers tested these bacteria for their ability to produce smelly molecules called volatile organic compounds (VOCs). They compared the VOCs produced by the bacteria with those found in the original cat swabs: out of 67 molecules produced by the lab-grown bacteria, 51 were also found in the cat secretions. This is a strong indication that at least some of the stinky molecules in cat spray are produced by bacteria.

研究人员测试了这些细菌产生挥发性有机化合物(VOCs)的能力。他们将细菌产生的挥发性有机化合物与猫分泌物中发现的进行了比较:在实验室培养的细菌产生的67个分子中,有51个也存在于猫的分泌物中。这是一个强有力的证据,表明至少有一些猫喷雾剂中的臭分子是由细菌产生的。

This agrees with a previous study in hyenas showing that bacteria play a role in animal odors and generally supports a theory known as the Fermentation Hypothesis — that “symbiotic microorganisms living in association with animals contribute to odor profiles used in chemical communication and that variation in these chemical signals reflects variation in the microbial community.” This hypothesis is also supported by research showing that animals on antibiotics produce fewer smelly compounds in their secretions.

这在鬣狗同意一项研究表明细菌发挥作用在动物的气味,一般支持称为发酵理论假设——“共生微生物与动物生活在协会有助于气味概要文件用于化学通讯和这些化学信号的变化反映了微生物群落的变化。这一假设也得到了研究的支持,研究表明,服用抗生素的动物在其分泌物中产生的臭味化合物更少。

Fermentation is a microbial process that can happen when there is no oxygen present. It allows microbes to take energy from organic substances like sugar, and produces new small molecules that the microbes secrete as waste, like when yeast makes alcohol(ethanol) during beer production. Fermentation also happens in our guts all the time. Around 10 % of the energy we use every day comes directly from short organic acids that our gut bacteria make by fermenting food molecules we otherwise can’t digest.

发酵是一种微生物过程,发生时没有氧气的存在。它允许微生物从有机物质(如糖)中获取能量,并产生新的小分子,微生物将这些小分子作为废物分泌,就像酵母在啤酒生产过程中制造酒精(乙醇)一样。发酵也一直在我们的肠道中发生。我们每天消耗的10%的能量直接来自于肠道细菌通过发酵食物分子而产生的短有机酸,否则我们无法消化。

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The VOCs in cat spray are similar types of organic acid, called short chain fatty acids, many of which are known for their outrageous stench. If the Fermentation Hypothesis is correct, most such fatty acids in mammals would have a microbial origin. It may even be possible that the a/nal sac organ – which provides an oxygen-free environment for fermenting bacteria – has been retained in cats specifically to provide those bacteria a home.

猫喷雾剂中的挥发性有机化合物是一种类似的有机酸,被称为短链脂肪酸,其中许多以其恶臭闻名。如果发酵假说是正确的,那么哺乳动物中的大多数脂肪酸都有微生物来源。甚至有可能a/nal囊器官——为发酵细菌提供一个无氧环境——被保留在猫体内,专门为这些细菌提供一个家。

These smelly substances are thought help cats identify each other as individuals and as group members. Therefore, by producing these smelly substances, bacteria living inside animals may be impacting group behavior and how animals recognize each other. 

这些有臭味的物质被认为可以帮助猫识别彼此的个体和群体成员。因此,通过产生这些有臭味的物质,生活在动物体内的细菌可能会影响群体行为和动物如何识别彼此。

However, before any definitive conclusions can be established, these findings will need to be replicated in multiple cats, not just a single cat. Another important question is whether cats that live together in a house or shelter develop a more similar a/nal sac microbiota than cats who live apart or are feral. If so, would that mean that their scent markings become more similar over time? It would be fascinating to know the effect on group dynamics and recognition between animals, and how this particular bacterial community might be impacting the behavior of the host animals.

然而,在得出任何确定的结论之前,这些发现需要在多只猫身上进行重复,而且不仅仅是一只猫。另一个重要的问题是,与独居或野生的猫相比,住在一起的猫是否会形成更相似的a/nal囊菌群。如果是这样,这是否意味着它们的气味特征会随着时间的推移变得越来越相似呢?了解这种细菌群落对动物群体动态和相互识别的影响,以及这种特殊的细菌群落如何影响宿主动物的行为,将是一件很有趣的事情。

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Photo by Jonas Vincent on Unsplash

照片由Jonas Vincent提供

So what’s next for KittyBiome? Their long-term goals are to understand the effects of diet and behavior on cat health, to hopefully develop diet plans and perhaps pre- or probiotic products that pet owners can give to their feline companions. They are collaborating with Cat Tracker, a company that provides owners with GPS trackers for their cats, and connects those data with info about how cats live and behave, what they eat, and so on. The KittyBiome researchers want to try to correlate microbiome data with behavioral observations like distance traveled and the consumption of scavenged or hunted food. They are also ana/lyzing samples sent in by owners who feed their cats a analysis-microbiome-results-for-a-raw-fed-kitty/">raw pet food sold in San Francisco, to investigate the impact of an uncooked diet.

那么,猫咪群落的下一步是什么?他们的长期目标是了解猫的饮食和行为对猫的健康的影响,有希望制定饮食计划,也许宠物主人可以给他们的猫伙伴提供益生菌前或益生菌产品。他们正在与Cat Tracker公司合作,后者为猫主人提供猫的GPS追踪器,并将这些数据与猫的生活习性、饮食等信息联系起来。KittyBiome的研究人员想要尝试将微生物组的数据与行为观察联系起来,比如旅行的距离和对清吃或狩猎食物的消费。此外,他们还对宠物主人送来的样品进行了分析,这些宠物主人在旧金山出售的生宠物食品中添加了一种名为“>生宠物食品”的分析菌群结果,以研究生食的影响。

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