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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

The Effects of Antibiotics and Diet on Body Composition of Arctic Ground Squirrels

Status Current
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 06/30/2014
End Date 06/30/2015
Funding Source Alaska Heart Institute
Funding Amount
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 08/18/2014 11:37PM
Keywords arctic ground squirrels


  Khrystyne Duddleston

Student Researchers
  Sarah Cain


Gut microbiota are known to play a role in health and disease. For example,
studies with mice and humans have implicated gut microbes in obesity; however,
many questions as to their role in this disease remain unanswered. The arctic
ground squirrel (Urocitellus parryii) is a mammal that undergoes extreme
physiological changes across its annual cycle and can serve as a non-traditional
model for studies of host-gut microbe interactions. Arctic ground squirrels mate,
give birth, raise young, and accumulate sufficient body fat for hibernation in as little
as 3 months. In preparation for hibernation, a typical arctic ground squirrel will
increase its body fat from 5 to 45% within a 3-week period just preceding
emergence into hibernation. Given the degree to which arctic ground squirrels
fatten and the short time frame in which they do so, it stands to reason that arctic
ground squirrels have a gut microbiota that assists in fat deposition. Little is known
about the role of the gut microbial community in pre-hibernation fattening in arctic
ground squirrels. Therefore, the goal of this study is to determine if alteration of the
gut microbial community via antibiotic intervention or diet manipulation influences
the rate and degree of pre-hibernation fattening.

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