Seasonal dynamics of diet–gut microbiota interaction in adaptation of yaks to life at high altitude

Na Guo, Qunfu Wu, Fuyu Shi, Jiahuan Niu, Tao Zhang, A. Allan Degen, Qiangen Fang, Luming Ding, Zhanhuan Shang, Zhigang Zhang, Ruijun Long

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


Dietary selection and intake affect the survival and health of mammals under extreme environmental conditions. It has been suggested that dietary composition is a key driver of gut microbiota variation; however, how gut microbiota respond to seasonal dietary changes under extreme natural conditions remains poorly understood. Sequencing plant trnL (UAA) region and 16S rRNA gene analysis were employed to determine dietary composition and gut microbiota in freely grazing yaks on the Tibetan plateau. Dietary composition was more diverse in winter than in summer, while Gramineae and Rosaceae were consumed frequently all year. Turnover of seasonal diet and gut microbiota composition occurred consistently. Yaks shifted enterotypes in response to dietary change between warm and cold seasons to best utilize nitrogen and energy, in particular in the harsh cold season. Our findings provide insights into understanding seasonal changes of diet–microbiota linkages in the adaptation of mammals to high altitudes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number38
Journalnpj Biofilms and Microbiomes
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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