Biodiversity, Microbiome, Symbiosis, Urban ecology
Recent studies suggest that gut microbiomes of urban-industrialized societies are different from those of traditional peoples. Here we examine the relationship between lifeways and gut microbiota through taxonomic and functional potential characterization of faecal samples from hunter-gatherer and traditional agriculturalist communities in Peru and an urban-industrialized community from the US. We find that in addition to taxonomic and metabolic differences between urban and traditional lifestyles, hunter-gatherers form a distinct sub-group among traditional peoples. As observed in previous studies, we find that Treponema are characteristic of traditional gut microbiomes. Moreover, through genome reconstruction (2.2–2.5 MB, coverage depth × 26–513) and functional potential characterization, we discover these Treponema are diverse, fall outside of pathogenic clades and are similar to Treponema succinifaciens, a known carbohydrate metabolizer in swine. Gut Treponema are found in non-human primates and all traditional peoples studied to date, suggesting they are symbionts lost in urban-industrialized societies.
Obregon-Tito, Alexandra J.; Raul Y. Tito; Jessica Metcalf; Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan; Jose C. Clemente; Luke K. Ursell; Zhenjiang Zech Xu; Will Van Treuren; Rob Knight; Patrick M. Gaffney; Paul Spicer; Paul Lawson; Luis Marin-Reyes; Omar Trujillo-Villarroel; Morris Foster; Emilio Guija-Poma; Luzmila Troncoso-Corzo; Christina Warinner; Andrew T. Ozga; and Cecil M. Lewis Jr.. 2015. "Subsistence strategies in traditional societies distinguish gut microbiomes." Nature Communications 6, (6505): 1-9. doi:10.1038/ncomms7505.