The relationship between pinworm (Trypanoxyuris) infection and gut bacteria in wild black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra)

Rodolfo Martínez-Mota, Nicoletta Righini, Elizabeth K. Mallott, Thomas R. Gillespie, Katherine R. Amato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Gut bacteria may coexist with other groups of organisms, such as nematode parasites, that inhabit the gastrointestinal tract of primates; however, the possible effects of endoparasites on bacterial communities are frequently overlooked. Here we explored whether infection with Trypanoxyuris, an oxyurid gastrointestinal parasite, is associated with changes in the gut bacterial community of wild black howler monkeys (Alouatta pigra), by comparing gut bacterial communities of consistently infected individuals and individuals that never tested positive for Trypanoxyuris throughout different months across the year. We additionally controlled for other sources of variation reported to influence the primate microbiome including individual identity, social group, and seasonality. Trypanoxyuris infection was not related to differences in gut bacterial alpha diversity, but was weakly associated with differences in gut bacterial community structure. In contrast, among the covariates considered, both individual identity and social group were more strongly associated with variation in the howler gut bacterial community. Our results suggest that gastrointestinal parasites may be associated, to some extent, with shifts in the gut bacterial communities hosted by free-ranging primates, although a causal link still needs to be established. Further studies of wild primate hosts infected with parasite species with different pathogenicity are needed to better elucidate health-related consequences from the parasite-microbiome interplay.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere23330
JournalAmerican Journal of Primatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Mexico
  • Trypanoxyuris
  • gut microbiome
  • nematodes
  • parasites
  • sociality


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