Maturation and stabilization of the infant gut microbiome in wild geladasSave as calendar entry
Early-life development of the gut microbiome has a long-lasting impact on metabolism, the nervous system, and immunity. Yet, gut microbiome maturation remains poorly studied in wild mammals. Here, we analyzed the gut microbiome composition of wild infant geladas (Theropithecus gelada) using 16s rRNA amplicon sequencing of 525 fecal samples from 89 individuals between 0-3 years old. We characterized age-associated changes in the composition and function of the infant gut microbiome. We found that infants reach an adult-like microbiota configuration around 18 months, the approximate age of behavioral weaning in geladas - however, interindividual variation in the timing of this transition appears high. Infants shared more bacteria with their mother than expected by chance, suggesting vertical transmission, that was further modulated by maternal parity. Our findings highlight the dynamic nature of the gut colonization process in early life. Future studies should aim at unraveling the socioecological determinants generating inter-individual variation.
Alice Baniel (Stony Brook University)
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Deutsches Primatenzentrum GmbH
Leibniz-Institut für Primatenforschung