Ecology impacts the decrease of Spirochaetes and Prevotella in the fecal gut microbiota of urban humans

Compared to the huge microbial diversity in most mammals, human gut microbiomes have lost diversity while becoming specialized for animal-based diets - especially compared to chimps, their genetically closest ancestors. The lowered microbial diversity within the gut of westernized populations has also been associated with different kinds of chronic inflammatory diseases in humans. To further deepen our knowledge on phylogenetic and ecologic impacts on human health and fitness, we established the herein presented biobank as well as its comprehensive microbiota analysis. In total, 368 stool samples from 38 different animal species, including Homo sapiens, belonging to four diverse mammalian orders were collected at seven different locations and analyzed by 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing. Comprehensive data analysis was performed to (i) determine the overall impact of host phylogeny vs. diet, location, and ecology and to (ii) examine the general pattern of fecal bacterial diversity across captive mammals and humans.By using a controlled study design with captive mammals we could verify that host phylogeny is the most dominant driver of mammalian gut microbiota composition. However, the effect of ecology appears to be able to overcome host phylogeny and should therefore be studied in more detail in future studies. Most importantly, our study could observe a remarkable decrease of Spirochaetes and Prevotella in westernized humans and platyrrhines, which is probably not only due to diet, but also to the social behavior and structure in these communities.Our study highlights the importance of phylogenetic relationship and ecology within the evolution of mammalian fecal microbiota composition. Particularly, the observed decrease of Spirochaetes and Prevotella in westernized communities might be associated to lifestyle dependent rapid evolutionary changes, potentially involved in the establishment of dysbiotic microbiomes, which promote the etiology of chronic diseases.


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