Bacterial community in the crop of the hoatzin, a neotropical folivorous flying bird

Filipa Godoy-Vitorino, Ruth E. Ley, Zhan Gao, Zhiheng Pei, Humberto Ortiz-Zuazaga, Luis R. Pericchi, Maria A. Garcia-Amado, Fabian Michelangeli, Martin J. Blaser, Jeffrey I. Gordon, Maria G. Domínguez-Bello

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The hoatzin is unique among known avian species because of the fermentative function of its enlarged crop. A small-bodied flying foregut fermenter is a paradox, and this bird provides an interesting model to examine how diet selection and the gut microbiota contribute to maximizing digestive efficiency. Therefore, we characterized the bacterial population in the crop of six adult hoatzins captured from the wild. A total of 1,235 16S rRNA gene sequences were grouped into 580 phylotypes (67% of the pooled species richness sampled, based on Good's coverage estimator, with CACE and Chao1 estimates of 1,709 and 1,795 species-level [99% identity] operational taxonomic units, respectively). Members of 9 of the ∼75 known phyla in Bacteria were identified in this gut habitat; the Firmicutes were dominant (67% of sequences, belonging to the classes Clostridia, Mollicutes, and Bacilli), followed by the Bacteroidetes (30%, mostly in the order Bacteroidales), Proteobacteria (1.8%), and Lentisphaerae, Verrucomicrobia, TM7, Spirochaetes, Actinobacteria, and Aminanaerobia (all <0.1%). The novelty in this ecosystem is great; 94% of the phylotypes were unclassified at the "species" level and thus likely include novel cellulolytic lineages.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5905-5912
Number of pages8
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number19
StatePublished - Oct 2008


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