Impacts of radiation exposure on the bacterial and fungal microbiome of small mammals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone

Antwis, RE ORCID:, Beresford, NA, Jackson, JA ORCID:, Fawkes, R, Barnett, CL, Potter, E, Walker, L, Gaschak, S and Wood, M ORCID: 2021, 'Impacts of radiation exposure on the bacterial and fungal microbiome of small mammals in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone' , Journal of Animal Ecology, 90 (9) , pp. 2172-2187.

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Environmental impacts of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant accident are much debated, but the effects of radiation on host microbiomes have received little attention to date. We present the first analysis of small mammal gut microbiome from the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in relation to total absorbed dose rate and including caecum as well as faeces sample. We provide novel evidence that host species determines fungal community composition, and that associations between microbiome (both bacterial and fungal) communities and radiation exposure varies between host species. Using ambient versus total weighted absorbed dose rates in analyses produced different results, with the latter more robust for interpreting microbiome changes at the individual level. We found considerable variation between results for faecal and gut samples of bank voles, suggesting faecal samples are not an accurate indicator of gut composition. Associations between radiation exposure and microbiome composition of gut samples were not robust against geographical variation, although we identified families of bacteria (Lachnospiraceae and Muribaculaceae) and fungi (Steccherinaceae and Strophariaceae) in the guts of bank voles that may serve as biomarkers of radiation exposure. Further studies considering a range of small mammal species are needed to establish the robustness of these potential biomarkers.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Environment and Life Sciences > Ecosystems and Environment Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Journal of Animal Ecology
Publisher: Wiley
ISSN: 0021-8790
Related URLs:
Funders: Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), Radioactive Waste Management Ltd, Environment Agency (RATE programme)
Depositing User: Dr Rachael Antwis
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2021 08:01
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:27

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