Network-based gut microbiome analysis in dogs

Elisa Scarsella, Aashish Jha, Misa Sandri, Bruno Stefanon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A growing number of studies in the last decade described the microbial populations in different niches of the organism thank to High-throughput DNA sequencing techniques, that are easily accessible to researchers. Furthermore, network analysis allows characterisation of bacteria that are indirectly linked to outcomes such as disease, diet and host sex through their association with other taxa. The present work on the gut microbiome follows previous research in which data were collected from 8 in-house dietary intervention studies in healthy dogs. Animals were divided according to diet and sex. The process of sample collection, storage, DNA extraction and sequencing, bioinformatic and statistical analysis followed a tailored, internally defined pipeline. The extracted DNA was prepared for sequencing of the V3 and V4 regions of the 16 rRNA gene. Correlation network analysis was performed by calculating pairwise relationships between taxa using the Sparse Correlations for Compositional Data (SparCC) algorithm. First, we identified candidate bacteria that were highly abundant in the microbial community, and second, we examined taxa that were directly related to diet and sex factors. In summary, this study underpins the network structure of the gut microbiome of dogs categorised by diet and sex and provides a better explanation for the interactions between bacteria that led to the grouping of dogs based on environmental or genetic factors. Specifically, this study has provided the basis for understanding how the bacterial community in the gut is interconnected and functions as a function of diet composition and sex.Highlights Network analysis could allow indirect association between bacteria composing the gut microbiome and outcomes, such as disease, diet and sex of the host. This research put the basis on the definition of enterotypes also in dogs, a concept already applied in humans. Positively correlated bacteria, belonging to modules could help to modulate diets and therapies for the treatment of enteropathies or gut-related pathologies linked to a dysbiosis status of the host.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1465-1475
Number of pages11
JournalItalian Journal of Animal Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2022


  • Dog
  • diet
  • gut microbiome
  • microbial network
  • sex

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology


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