The Cetacean Gut Microbiome

Collecting whale poop in the Bay of FundyNext-generation sequencing has allowed us to characterize cetacean gut microbial communities and discover surprising similarities to the microbiomes of terrestrial herbivores and carnivores.

With colleagues at Harvard, I am extending my senior thesis research on the right whale gut microbiome. We have added gut microbiome data from IMG_5950many other cetaceans, terrestrial carnivores, omnivores and herbivores and insectivores to our dataset and Jon Sanders (Harvard) has carried out metagenomic analyses to determine which functional pathways are enriched in the cetacean gut microbiome. We have discovered exciting convergence between cetacean microbial pathways and those found in terrestrial herbivores. Preliminary results were presented by Jon at the General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology. [Manuscript in final preparation]

See other Current Projects