Send to

Choose Destination
Sci Adv. 2016 Jan 15;2(1):e1500997. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.1500997. eCollection 2016 Jan.

Social behavior shapes the chimpanzee pan-microbiome.

Author information

Department of Integrative Biology, University of California, Berkeley, 1005 Valley Life Sciences Building #3101, Berkeley, CA 94720, USA.
Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, 104 Biological Sciences Building, Durham, NC 27708, USA.
Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota, 301 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA; Department of Ecology, Evolution and Behavior, University of Minnesota, St. Paul, MN 55108 USA.
Departments of Medicine and Microbiology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 409 Johnson Pavilion, Philadelphia, PA 19104, USA.
Department of Integrative Biology, University of Texas at Austin, 2506 Speedway A5000, Austin, TX 78712, USA.


Animal sociality facilitates the transmission of pathogenic microorganisms among hosts, but the extent to which sociality enables animals' beneficial microbial associations is poorly understood. The question is critical because microbial communities, particularly those in the gut, are key regulators of host health. We show evidence that chimpanzee social interactions propagate microbial diversity in the gut microbiome both within and between host generations. Frequent social interaction promotes species richness within individual microbiomes as well as homogeneity among the gut community memberships of different chimpanzees. Sampling successive generations across multiple chimpanzee families suggests that infants inherited gut microorganisms primarily through social transmission. These results indicate that social behavior generates a pan-microbiome, preserving microbial diversity across evolutionary time scales and contributing to the evolution of host species-specific gut microbial communities.


Animals; animal behavior; chimpanzee; gut microbiota; microbial communities; social behavior

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center