PerspectiveMicrobiology

Seasonal change in the gut

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Science  25 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, pp. 754-755
DOI: 10.1126/science.aao2997

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Summary

We live in a dynamic environment where diet, weather, social interactions, lifestyles, and a host of other factors change on a regular basis. Consequently, the microbial composition of even a healthy person's gut is subject to natural variations; however, not much is known about these variations. On page 802 of this issue, Smits et al. (1) study seasonal changes in the gut microbiome of the Hadza population (see the photo), a hunter-gatherer community residing near Lake Eyasi in Tanzania, Africa, during the wet and dry seasons of 2013 and 2014. Using a new methodology, they identify operational taxonomic units (OTUs)—clusters of reads that are a proxy for taxons—that respond to seasonal changes in diet, activity, and the external environment, thereby maintaining a healthy gut.