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Structure of Chimpanzee Gut Microbiomes across Tropical Africa

Bueno de Mesquita, CP; Nichols, LM; Gebert, MJ; Vanderburgh, C; Bocksberger, G; Lester, JD; Kalan, AK; ... Dunn, RR; + view all (2021) Structure of Chimpanzee Gut Microbiomes across Tropical Africa. mSystems , Article e0126920. 10.1128/mSystems.01269-20. Green open access

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Understanding variation in host-associated microbial communities is important given the relevance of microbiomes to host physiology and health. Using 560 fecal samples collected from wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) across their range, we assessed how geography, genetics, climate, vegetation, and diet relate to gut microbial community structure (prokaryotes, eukaryotic parasites) at multiple spatial scales. We observed a high degree of regional specificity in the microbiome composition, which was associated with host genetics, available plant foods, and potentially with cultural differences in tool use, which affect diet. Genetic differences drove community composition at large scales, while vegetation and potentially tool use drove within-region differences, likely due to their influence on diet. Unlike industrialized human populations in the United States, where regional differences in the gut microbiome are undetectable, chimpanzee gut microbiomes are far more variable across space, suggesting that technological developments have decoupled humans from their local environments, obscuring regional differences that could have been important during human evolution. IMPORTANCE Gut microbial communities are drivers of primate physiology and health, but the factors that influence the gut microbiome in wild primate populations remain largely undetermined. We report data from a continent-wide survey of wild chimpanzee gut microbiota and highlight the effects of genetics, vegetation, and potentially even tool use at different spatial scales on the chimpanzee gut microbiome, including bacteria, archaea, and eukaryotic parasites. Microbial community dissimilarity was strongly correlated with chimpanzee population genetic dissimilarity, and vegetation composition and consumption of algae, honey, nuts, and termites were potentially associated with additional divergence in microbial communities between sampling sites. Our results suggest that host genetics, geography, and climate play a far stronger role in structuring the gut microbiome in chimpanzees than in humans.

Type: Article
Title: Structure of Chimpanzee Gut Microbiomes across Tropical Africa
Location: United States
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1128/mSystems.01269-20
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1128/mSystems.01269-20
Language: English
Additional information: © 2021 Bueno de Mesquita et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.
Keywords: climate, diet, host genetics, parasites, prokaryotes, tools
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Anthropology
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10130852
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