Worlds within worlds: Evolution of the vertebrate gut microbiota

Ruth E. Ley, Catherine A. Lozupone, Micah Hamady, Rob Knight, Jeffrey I. Gordon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1023 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this Analysis we use published 16S ribosomal RNA gene sequences to compare the bacterial assemblages that are associated with humans and other mammals, metazoa and free-living microbial communities that span a range of environments. The composition of the vertebrate gut microbiota is influenced by diet, host morphology and phylogeny, and in this respect the human gut bacterial community is typical of an omnivorous primate. However, the vertebrate gut microbiota is different from free-living communities that are not associated with animal body habitats. We propose that the recently initiated international Human Microbiome Project should strive to include a broad representation of humans, as well as other mammalian and environmental samples, as comparative analyses of microbiotas and their microbiomes are a powerful way to explore the evolutionary history of the biosphere.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-788
Number of pages13
JournalNature Reviews Microbiology
Volume6
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - 2008

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