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Elife. 2015 Mar 16;4. doi: 10.7554/eLife.05224.

Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons.

Author information

1
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Durham, United States.
2
Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada.
3
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States.
4
Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, United States.
5
Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya.
6
Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States.

Abstract

Social relationships have profound effects on health in humans and other primates, but the mechanisms that explain this relationship are not well understood. Using shotgun metagenomic data from wild baboons, we found that social group membership and social network relationships predicted both the taxonomic structure of the gut microbiome and the structure of genes encoded by gut microbial species. Rates of interaction directly explained variation in the gut microbiome, even after controlling for diet, kinship, and shared environments. They therefore strongly implicate direct physical contact among social partners in the transmission of gut microbial species. We identified 51 socially structured taxa, which were significantly enriched for anaerobic and non-spore-forming lifestyles. Our results argue that social interactions are an important determinant of gut microbiome composition in natural animal populations-a relationship with important ramifications for understanding how social relationships influence health, as well as the evolution of group living.

KEYWORDS:

Papio cynocephalus; ecology; evolutionary biology; genomics; gut microbiome; metagenomics; social behavior; social network; transmission

Comment in

PMID:
25774601
PMCID:
PMC4379495
DOI:
10.7554/eLife.05224
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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