Comparison of the fecal microbiota with high- and low performance race horses
Exercise plays an important role in regulating energy homeostasis, which affects the diversity of the intestinal microbial community in humans and animals. To the best of the authors’ knowledge, few studies have reported the associations between horse gut microbiota along with their predicted metabolic activities and the athletic ability of Jeju horses and Thoroughbreds living in Korea. This study was conducted to investigate the association between the gut microbiota and athletic performance in horses. This study sequenced the V3 and V4 hypervariable regions of the partial 16S rRNA genes obtained from racehorse fecal samples and compared the fecal microbiota between high- and low-performance Jeju horses and Thoroughbreds. Forty-nine fecal samples were divided into four groups: high-performance Jeju horses (HJ, n = 13), low-performance Jeju horses (LJ, n = 17), high-performance Thoroughbreds (HT, n = 9), and low-performance Thoroughbreds (LT, n = 10). The high-performance horse groups had a higher diversity of the bacterial community than the low-performance horse groups. Two common functional metabolic activities of the hindgut microbiota (i.e., tryptophan and succinate syntheses) were observed between the low-performance horse groups, indicating dysbiosis of gut microbiota and fatigue from exercise. On the other hand, high-performance horse groups showed enriched production of polyamines, butyrate, and vitamin K. The racing performance may be associated with the composition of the intestinal microbiota of Jeju horses and Thoroughbreds in Korea.