Journal of Undergraduate Research


host microbiota, intestinal fiber content, alpaca, pseudo-ruminant


Life Sciences


Plant and Wildlife Sciences


As a pseudo-ruminant, the alpaca is highly dependent on the bacteria in its intestinal tract to obtain the nutrients it needs. For example the starch-fermenting bacteria in the compartment 1 (C1) access nutrients from the normally indigestible starches the alpaca consumes. The bacteria release volatile fatty acids (VFAs) in return. The alpaca uses VFAs as a source of energy. In turn, the composition of the microbiome (bacteria in the intestinal tract) is affected by many factors involving its host. These factors could include host genome, diet, and location in the digestive tract. Our research was to survey many aspects of why the alpaca is able to extract more energy from ingested dietary fiber than almost all other animals. We also looked to perfect protocol for examining such traits as this analysis is done many different ways throughout the scientific community.