An urban diet differentially alters the gut microbiome and metabolomic profiles compared with a seed diet in mourning doves

Alex E. Mohr, Anthony J. Basile, Karen L. Sweazea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Urbanization influences food quality and availability for many avian species, with increased access to human refuse and food subsidies in built environments. In relation to such nutritional intakes and their presumed impact on microbes harbored in the intestinal tract and metabolic profiles of host physiological systems, our overall knowledge of the role of gut microbiome (GM) and metabolomic expression in the avian host lags far behind our understanding of mammals. Therefore, the objective of this investigation was to examine the potential differential effect of an urban modeled versus control (i.e., bird seed) diet on the GM, the metabolic profiles of plasma, liver, adipose, kidney, and muscle tissues, and circulating endotoxin and inflammatory factors in urban-caught mourning doves (Zenaida macroura). We hypothesized that the urban diet would differently impact the profiles of the GM and tissue metabolomes and increase plasma lipopolysaccharide (LPS) and proinflammatory factors compared with animals fed a seed diet. After a 4-wk-diet period, contents of the large intestine were sequenced to profile the microbiome, metabolomic analyses were performed on plasma and tissue homogenates, and circulating LPS and inflammatory markers were assessed. The composition of the GM was significantly dissimilar between diets, with greater abundance of Erysipelatoclostridiaceae, Sanguibacteraceae, Oribacterium, and Sanguibacter and decreased circulating LPS in the urban-fed birds. These differences were largely not reflected in the surveyed metabolomes and plasma inflammatory markers. This research supports the notion that the microbial composition in urban doves is impacted by diet, though may only weakly associate with host physiology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)R385-R396
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Regulatory Integrative and Comparative Physiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022


  • birds
  • gut microbiome
  • lipopolysaccharide
  • metabolomics
  • urban

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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