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Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2014 Oct 29;4:147. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2014.00147. eCollection 2014.

Friends with social benefits: host-microbe interactions as a driver of brain evolution and development?

Author information

1
Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork Cork, Ireland ; Department Anatomy and Neuroscience, University College Cork Cork, Ireland.
2
Departments of Biological Sciences and Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology, Vanderbilt University Nashville, TN, USA.
3
Alimentary Pharmabiotic Centre, University College Cork Cork, Ireland ; Department of Psychiatry, University College Cork Cork, Ireland.

Abstract

The tight association of the human body with trillions of colonizing microbes that we observe today is the result of a long evolutionary history. Only very recently have we started to understand how this symbiosis also affects brain function and behavior. In this hypothesis and theory article, we propose how host-microbe associations potentially influenced mammalian brain evolution and development. In particular, we explore the integration of human brain development with evolution, symbiosis, and RNA biology, which together represent a "social triangle" that drives human social behavior and cognition. We argue that, in order to understand how inter-kingdom communication can affect brain adaptation and plasticity, it is inevitable to consider epigenetic mechanisms as important mediators of genome-microbiome interactions on an individual as well as a transgenerational time scale. Finally, we unite these interpretations with the hologenome theory of evolution. Taken together, we propose a tighter integration of neuroscience fields with host-associated microbiology by taking an evolutionary perspective.

KEYWORDS:

epigenetics; evo-devo; gene-environment interactions; microbiota; neurodevelopment; non-coding RNA; sociality; transgenerational

PMID:
25401092
PMCID:
PMC4212686
DOI:
10.3389/fcimb.2014.00147
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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