Biology Faculty Articles

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Scientific Reports






1724 (2021)


High taxonomic diversity in non-industrial human gut microbiomes is often interpreted as beneficial; however, it is unclear if taxonomic diversity engenders ecological resilience (i.e. community stability and metabolic continuity). We estimate resilience through genus and species-level richness, phylogenetic diversity, and evenness in short-chain fatty acid (SCFA) production among a global gut metagenome panel of 12 populations (n = 451) representing industrial and non-industrial lifestyles, including novel metagenomic data from Burkina Faso (n = 90). We observe significantly higher genus-level resilience in non-industrial populations, while SCFA production in industrial populations is driven by a few phylogenetically closely related species (belonging to Bacteroides and Clostridium), meaning industrial microbiomes have low resilience potential. Additionally, database bias obfuscates resilience estimates, as we were 2–5 times more likely to identify SCFA-encoding species in industrial microbiomes compared to non-industrial. Overall, we find high phylogenetic diversity, richness, and evenness of bacteria encoding SCFAs in non-industrial gut microbiomes, signaling high potential for resilience in SCFA production, despite database biases that limit metagenomic analysis of non-industrial populations.


The Burkina Faso gut microbiome metagenome samples produced in this study are available in NCBI under BioProjectID PRJNA690543.

Funding for this manuscript came from NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (1925579) and NIH R01 Grant (GM089886).

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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