The Role of gut microbiome plasticity in a specie's range
Amanda Rose Hale, Amanda R. Hale , Jessica Purcell
University of California Riverside, USA; University of California Riverside, USA ; University of California Riverside, USA
The gut microbiome of a species may provide insight into the limits of their range. I am investigating the hypothesis that a species’ tolerance for diverse habitats stems, at least in part, from their gut’s ability to adapt to a novel microbial community. This study explores the bacterial gut microbiomes of ants native to Southern California, and their ability to adopt to novel environments. Ants native to southern California have few physical adaptations to extreme desert environments, and yet some species persist from the coast to the Mojave and Colorado deserts, with a variety of elevational tolerances. Other species, however, have highly restrictive ranges. Their gut microbiome plasticity may play a role in their ability to tolerate California's rich variety of biomes. My study compares the relative abundances of viable gut bacteria in multiple ant species over time, as they are maintained in a novel lab environment on a consistent diet.