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Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology

Where Science Meets Society

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A recent publication in Cell Reports compared the gut microbiomes of two societies from the same geographical region: a hunter-gatherer society, and a farming society with access to Westernized foods.  These two microbiomes were also compared with that of a typical Western society.

Andres Gomez, first author and microbial ecologist and staff scientist at the J. Craig Venter Institute in California, published the findings with colleagues including IGB members Professor of Animal Sciences Rex Gaskins, Professor of Microbiology Brenda Wilson, Professor of Anthropology Rebecca Stumpf, Professor of Animal Sciences Bryan White, and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology Steven Leigh.

Gozo, bitter manioc root (top) and Koko leaves (bottom) (Gnetum africanum) in peanut sauce, two staple foods in the region.
Gozo, bitter manioc root (top) and Koko leaves (bottom) (Gnetum africanum) in peanut sauce, two staple foods in the region.

The findings highlighted differences in the microbial community composition, including the ability to digest fibrous material. These findings could further support the understanding of the impact of diet and lifestyle in relation to metabolic and colonic disorders.

The paper, “Gut Microbiome of Coexisting BaAka Pygmies and Bantu Reflects Gradients of Traditional Subsistence Patterns,” is available here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2016.02.013.

A recent article on this paper was also published by Newsweek: Giving Up Hunting and Gathering Changed Our Gut Microbiome.

Associated Themes
Microbiome Metabolic Engineering
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John Jost.