Subsistence strategies in traditional societies distinguish gut microbiomes

Alexandra J. Obregon-Tito, Raul Y. Tito, Jessica Metcalf, Krithivasan Sankaranarayanan, Jose C. Clemente, Luke K. Ursell, Zhenjiang Zech Xu, Will Van Treuren, Rob Knight, Patrick M. Gaffney, Paul Spicer, Paul Lawson, Luis Marin-Reyes, Omar Trujillo-Villarroel, Morris Foster, Emilio Guija-Poma, Luzmila Troncoso-Corzo, Christina Warinner, Andrew T. Ozga, Cecil M. Lewis

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350 Scopus citations


Recent studies suggest that gut microbiomes of urban-industrialized societies are different from those of traditional peoples. Here we examine the relationship between lifeways and gut microbiota through taxonomic and functional potential characterization of faecal samples from hunter-gatherer and traditional agriculturalist communities in Peru and an urban-industrialized community from the US. We find that in addition to taxonomic and metabolic differences between urban and traditional lifestyles, hunter-gatherers form a distinct sub-group among traditional peoples. As observed in previous studies, we find that Treponema are characteristic of traditional gut microbiomes. Moreover, through genome reconstruction (2.2-2.5 MB, coverage depth × 26-513) and functional potential characterization, we discover these Treponema are diverse, fall outside of pathogenic clades and are similar to Treponema succinifaciens, a known carbohydrate metabolizer in swine. Gut Treponema are found in non-human primates and all traditional peoples studied to date, suggesting they are symbionts lost in urban-industrialized societies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6505
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - Mar 2015

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