Research Article: Dynamic distribution of gallbladder microbiota in rabbit at different ages and health states

Date Published: February 4, 2019

Publisher: Public Library of Science

Author(s): Yawei Xing, Jianping Liu, Fanggen Lu, Li Wang, Ying Li, Chunhui Ouyang, Jae-Ho Shin.


The internal environment of the gallbladder has been considered extremely unfavorable for bacterial growth, and the microbial profile of the gallbladder still unknown. By high-throughput sequencing of the bacterial 16S rRNA gene, we studied the microbial profile of the gallbladder from healthy rabbits before and after weaning. Moreover, we investigated the difference of microbiota between the gallbladder and gut. Our results showed that the gallbladder was dominantly populated by Firmicutes, Bacteroidetes, Proteobacteria, and Actinobacteria in the phylum throughout the developmental stages of rabbits. The adult rabbits showed higher species richness and exhibited higher bacterial diversity than rabbits before weaning based on the results of alpha diversity. Beta diversity analyses indicated differences in the bacterial community composition between different developmental stages. In the comparison of the gallbladder and feces, Firmicutes and Bacteroidetes were dominant in the phylum, as they were present in about 61% and 21% of the feces, respectively. Conversely, in the gallbladder, Firmicutes was the most dominant (about 41%), and Bacteroidetes and Proteobacteria were present in about 16% and 22% of the gallbladder, respectively. The Unweighted UniFrac Principal Coordinate Analysis results illustrated samples clustered into 2 categories: the gallbladder and feces. Our study might provide a foundation for knowledge on gallbladder microbiota for the first time and a basis for further studies on gallbladder and intestinal health.

Partial Text

The gastrointestinal tract (GIT) of humans and animals colonizes enormous microbiota that forms a dynamic ecosystem. This complex microbiota forms a barrier against exogenous harmful substances and provides metabolic, immunological, and neurological benefits to the host [1–4]. To date, most studies about bacterial diversity and function have focused on the colon because of easy availability of samples (through feces or biopsies) and the high abundance of bacteria in the colon. In contrast, other parts of the GIT (e.g., the stomach, gallbladder, and small intestine) are difficult to access to obtain biological specimens because of technical problems, making us less aware of the characteristics of microbiota in these areas. However, thanks to the advancement of new technologies, an unexpected and wide-ranging microbial population has been revealed in this part of the GIT. Studies have indicated that GIT microbiota is a reflection of evolutionary selection pressures at the level of the host and microbial cells. The GIT microbiota is closely involved in many aspects of normal host physiology from the nutritional status to behavioral and stress responses [5].

The results of the study, which show the opposite of the traditional view of the gallbladder environment in humans, demonstrates for the first time the presence of abundant microbes in the gallbladder of healthy rabbits and changes in gallbladder microbiota along with body development. Moreover, we compared the composition of the profile of microbiota of the gallbladder and gut.




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