Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Michelle L. Sauther

Second Advisor

Frank P. Cuozzo

Third Advisor

Herbert H. Covert


As Otolemur crassicaudatus and Galago moholi are ubiquitous throughout part of South Africa they are thought to be at little conservation risk. However, this has resulted in a situation where these species are seldom studied. This thesis addresses this lack of knowledge about these two species by investigating the oral microbiome of each for potential zoonoses. This is an important undertaking due to the widespread nature of these species which could provide an avenue for potential zoonoses to spread.

In order to assess the oral microbiome, two genetic sequencing methods were utilized. Real-time PCR was utilized to search for mycobacterial contributors to the oral microbiome such as Mycobacterium tuberculosis and Mycobacterium leprae. Next-gen Illumina sequencing of the 16s region was chosen as an effective method to get an overall quantification of the amount of different bacterial contributors. Through these two methods major bacterial contributors of each tested oral microbiome were isolated and those with potential for causing illness in humans or domestic animals were identified.

The results illustrated a potential core microbiome for all Otolemur crassicaudatus consisting of three separate bacterial contributors; Mannheimia caviae, Porphyromonas catonia, and Gemella cunicula. While all tested O. crassicaudatus exhibited these three contributors the rest of the oral microbiome was made of different contributors in varying amounts. The qPCR (real-time PCR) for mycobacteria (tuberculosis and leprosy) yielded negative results despite several potential initial amplifications.

Despite qPCR findings several potentially pathogenic bacterial strains were discovered through next-gen 16s sequencing. These included Fusobacterium naviforme, Streptococcus bovis, and Gemella cunicula; all of which are known to cause disease in human hosts. A number of other bacterial strains with both human and non-human health risks were discovered in wild O. crassicaudatus as well as in captive sampled Galago moholi. These findings thus form the basis for several future avenues of potential research to assess any real zoonotic risks from these galagos to the broader human and animal populations of southern Africa.