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Conservation metagenomics: a new branch of conservation biology

  • Fuwen WeiEmail author
  • Qi Wu
  • Yibo Hu
  • Guangping Huang
  • Yonggang Nie
  • Li Yan
Open Access
Review

Abstract

Multifaceted approaches are required to monitor wildlife populations and improve conservation efforts. In the last decade, increasing evidence suggests that metagenomic analysis offers valuable perspectives and tools for identifying microbial communities and functions. It has become clear that gut microbiome plays a critical role in health, nutrition, and physiology of wildlife, including numerous endangered animals in the wild and in captivity. In this review, we first introduce the human microbiome and metagenomics, highlighting the importance of microbiome for host fitness. Then, for the first time, we propose the concept of conservation metagenomics, an emerging subdiscipline of conservation biology, which aims to understand the roles of the microbiota in evolution and conservation of endangered animals. We define what conservation metagenomics is along with current approaches, main scientific issues and significant implications in the study of host evolution, physiology, nutrition, ecology and conservation. We also discuss future research directions of conservation metagenomics. Although there is still a long way to go, conservation metagenomics has already shown a significant potential for improving the conservation and management of wildlife.

Keywords

microbiome conservation biology conservation metagenomics endangered animal 

Notes

Acknowledgements

This work was funded by the Strategic Priority Research Program of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (XDB31000000), the National Key Program of Research and Development, Ministry of Science and Technology of China (2016YFC0503200), and the Creative Research Group Project of National Natural Science Foundation of China (31821001).

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Copyright information

© Science China Press and Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fuwen Wei
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Qi Wu
    • 1
  • Yibo Hu
    • 1
    • 3
  • Guangping Huang
    • 1
  • Yonggang Nie
    • 1
    • 3
  • Li Yan
    • 1
  1. 1.CAS Key Laboratory of Animal Ecology and Conservation Biology, Institute of ZoologyChinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  2. 2.University of Chinese Academy of SciencesBeijingChina
  3. 3.Center for Excellence in Animal Evolution and GeneticsChinese Academy of SciencesKunmingChina

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