Subsistence Strategies in Traditional Societies Distinguish Gut Microbiomes


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.

Nat Commun