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Seasonal cycling in the gut microbiome of the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania

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Science  25 Aug 2017:
Vol. 357, Issue 6353, pp. 802-806
DOI: 10.1126/science.aan4834

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Seasonal diets, seasonal microbiota

Among the Hadza of western Tanzania, a few hundred people still live in small groups as hunter-gatherers, reliant solely on the wild environment for food. Smits et al. found that the microbiota of these people reflects the seasonal availability of different types of food (see the Perspective by Peddada). Between seasons, striking differences were observed in their gut microbial communities, with some taxa apparently disappearing, only to reappear when the seasons turned. Further comparison of the Hadza microbiota with that of diverse urbanized peoples revealed distinctly different patterns of microbial community composition.

Science, this issue p. 802; see also p. 754

Abstract

Although humans have cospeciated with their gut-resident microbes, it is difficult to infer features of our ancestral microbiome. Here, we examine the microbiome profile of 350 stool samples collected longitudinally for more than a year from the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. The data reveal annual cyclic reconfiguration of the microbiome, in which some taxa become undetectable only to reappear in a subsequent season. Comparison of the Hadza data set with data collected from 18 populations in 16 countries with varying lifestyles reveals that gut community membership corresponds to modernization: Notably, the taxa within the Hadza that are the most seasonally volatile similarly differentiate industrialized and traditional populations. These data indicate that some dynamic lineages of microbes have decreased in prevalence and abundance in modernized populations.

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