Results of a recent study highlight that domesticated horses live under different conditions compared with their extinct wild ancestors. They hypothesized that the microbiota of domesticated horses would be altered because of their housing circumstances, medication use, and feed regimes.
In their study, they assessed the fecal microbiome of 57 domestic and feral horses from different locations on three continents, observing geographical differences.
They found clear differences, with a higher abundance of Eukaryota and viruses, and fewer archaea in the feral animals when compared with domestic horses.
“Antibiotic exposure is one of the likely causes considering the observed increase in antimicrobial resistance genes,”
“The data revealed major differences between feral and domesticated animals, thus demonstrating the evolutionary role of domestication-associated antibiotics, feed and environment.”
The results, they said, offer a view of the impact of domestication or captivity on the intestinal microbiome of horses. The findings, they added, may help uncover new targets for regulating the microbiome of horses to enhance their health and well-being.