Laboratory Animals, Volume 53, Issue 3
, Page 259-270, June 2019.
In recent years, tremendous advances have been made in our ability to characterize complex microbial communities such as the gut microbiota, and numerous surveys of the human gut microbiota have identified countless associations between different compositional attributes of the gut microbiota and adverse health conditions. However, most of these findings in humans are purely correlative and animal models are required for prospective evaluation of such changes as causative factors in disease initiation or progression. As in most fields of biomedical research, microbiota-focused studies are predominantly performed in mouse or rat models. Depending on the field of research and experimental question or objective, non-rodent models may be preferable due to better translatability or an inability to use rodents for various reasons. The following review describes the utility and limitations of several non-rodent model species for research on the microbiota and its influence on host physiology and disease. In an effort to balance the breadth of potential model species with the amount of detail provided, four model species are discussed: zebrafish, dogs, pigs, and rabbits.