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Aging gut microbiota of wild macaques are equally diverse, less stable, but progressively personalized

  • Sadoughi, Baptiste
  • Schneider, Dominik
  • Daniel, Rolf
  • Schülke, Oliver
  • Ostner, Julia
Published Article
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Jun 19, 2022
DOI: 10.1186/s40168-022-01283-2
PMID: 35718778
PMCID: PMC9206754
PubMed Central
  • Research


Background Pronounced heterogeneity of age trajectories has been identified as a hallmark of the gut microbiota in humans and has been explained by marked changes in lifestyle and health condition. Comparatively, age-related personalization of microbiota is understudied in natural systems limiting our comprehension of patterns observed in humans from ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Results Here, we tested age-related changes in the diversity, stability, and composition of the gut bacterial community using 16S rRNA gene sequencing with dense repeated sampling over three seasons in a cross-sectional age sample of adult female Assamese macaques ( Macaca assamensis ) living in their natural forest habitat. Gut bacterial composition exhibited a personal signature which became less stable as individuals aged. This lack of stability was not explained by differences in microbiota diversity but rather linked to an increase in the relative abundance of rare bacterial taxa. The lack of age-related changes in core taxa or convergence with age to a common state of the community hampered predicting gut bacterial composition of aged individuals. On the contrary, we found increasing personalization of the gut bacterial composition with age, indicating that composition in older individuals was increasingly divergent from the rest of the population. Reduced direct transmission of bacteria resulting from decreasing social activity may contribute to, but not be sufficient to explain, increasing personalization with age. Conclusions Together, our results challenge the assumption of a constant microbiota through adult life in a wild primate. Within the limits of this study, the fact that increasing personalization of the aging microbiota is not restricted to humans suggests the underlying process to be evolved instead of provoked only by modern lifestyle of and health care for the elderly. Video abstract Supplementary Information The online version contains supplementary material available at 10.1186/s40168-022-01283-2.

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