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Nat Commun. 2018 May 3;9(1):1786. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-04204-w.

Gut microbiomes of wild great apes fluctuate seasonally in response to diet.

Author information

1
Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
2
Wildlife Conservation Society, Wildlife Health Program, Bronx, NY, 10460, USA.
3
Department of Geography and Planning, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC, 28608, USA.
4
Wildlife Conservation Society, Zoological Health Program, Bronx, NY, 10460, USA.
5
Wildlife Conservation Society, Global Health Program, Bronx, NY, 10460, USA.
6
EcoHealth Alliance, New York, NY, 10001, USA.
7
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
8
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
9
Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA.
10
Center for Infection and Immunity, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA. bw2101@cumc.columbia.edu.
11
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA. bw2101@cumc.columbia.edu.
12
Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, 10032, USA. bw2101@cumc.columbia.edu.

Abstract

The microbiome is essential for extraction of energy and nutrition from plant-based diets and may have facilitated primate adaptation to new dietary niches in response to rapid environmental shifts. Here we use 16S rRNA sequencing to characterize the microbiota of wild western lowland gorillas and sympatric central chimpanzees and demonstrate compositional divergence between the microbiotas of gorillas, chimpanzees, Old World monkeys, and modern humans. We show that gorilla and chimpanzee microbiomes fluctuate with seasonal rainfall patterns and frugivory. Metagenomic sequencing of gorilla microbiomes demonstrates distinctions in functional metabolic pathways, archaea, and dietary plants among enterotypes, suggesting that dietary seasonality dictates shifts in the microbiome and its capacity for microbial plant fiber digestion versus growth on mucus glycans. These data indicate that great ape microbiomes are malleable in response to dietary shifts, suggesting a role for microbiome plasticity in driving dietary flexibility, which may provide fundamental insights into the mechanisms by which diet has driven the evolution of human gut microbiomes.

PMID:
29725011
PMCID:
PMC5934369
DOI:
10.1038/s41467-018-04204-w
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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