Faecal sampling and analysis to survey ecology of anaerobic fungi. DNA extraction and PCR. Use of in vitro equine hindgut model where necessary.
1) Which anaerobic fungi are present in equids? It is hypothesised that equid specific anaerobic fungal taxa exist. 2) Do anaerobic fungi differ in ponies, donkeys and mules? It is hypothesised that the community composition of anaerobic fungi is not affected by host genotype but their quantity is (donkeys>mules>ponies). 3) Are equine anaerobic fungi different from those found in ruminants? It is hypothesised that equid specific anaerobic fungal taxa have genetic, metabolic and physiological properties that are distinct from those that have been previously described for ruminal anaerobic fungi. 4) What is the impact of anaerobic fungi on forage fermentation in the equine hindgut? It is hypothesised that anaerobic fungi improve the degradation of forage in the equine hindgut, and enhance the number and associated activity of bacteria, archaea and protozoa.