The Cloacal Microbiome of Five Wild Duck Species Varies by Species and Influenza A Virus Infection Status

Sarah M. Hird, Holly Ganz, Jonathan A. Eisen, Walter M. Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Waterfowl, especially ducks of the genus Anas, are natural reservoir species for influenza A virus (IAV). Duck populations contain nearly all the known diversity of IAVs, and the birds are asymptomatic to infection. Previous work established that IAV infection status is correlated with changes in the cloacal microbiome in juvenile mallards. Here, we analyze five Anas species to determine whether these duck species have similar IAV+ and IAV- cloacal microbiomes, or if the relationships among a host, influenza virus, and the microbiome are species specific. We assessed taxonomic composition of the microbiome, alpha diversity, and beta diversity and found very few patterns related to microbiome and infection status across species, while detecting strong differences within species. A host species-specific signal was stronger in IAV- ducks than IAV+ ducks, and the effect size of host species on the microbiome was three times higher in IAV- birds than IAV+ birds. The mallards and the northern shovelers, the species with highest sample sizes but also with differing feeding ecology, showed especially contrasting patterns in microbiome composition, alpha diversity, and beta diversity. Our results indicate that the microbiome may have a unique relationship with influenza virus infection at the species level.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere00382-18
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2018


  • avian microbiome
  • Ducks
  • Evolutionary biology
  • Microbial ecology
  • Microbiome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Molecular Biology


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