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External Environment has a Strong Influence on Fungal Communities in Primate Guts: Study

The research team was led by computational biologist Ashok Kumar Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher who previously worked at the University of Minnesota and is now at Cedars-Sinai. To profile the fungal and bacterial community composition, the researchers sequenced ITS2 and 16S rRNA gene markers in faecal samples from four nonhuman primate species and three different human groups.

Shivam Dwivedi
Fungal Communities in Guts (Representational Image)
Fungal Communities in Guts (Representational Image)

Researchers are beginning to understand the importance of gut fungi in mammals, as well as how various environmental factors can shape these fungal communities, which play an important role in regulating immune responses.

Researchers from the University of Minnesota and the Czech Academy of Sciences presented an overview of gut fungal community composition and fungal-bacterial interactions in different nonhuman primates (captive and wild) and human populations with a diverse set of food acquisition practices in a new study published in npj Biofilms and Microbiomes (traditional agriculturalists, hunter-gatherers, and the western human population).

Research Findings:

The research team was led by computational biologist Ashok Kumar Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher who previously worked at the University of Minnesota and is now at Cedars-Sinai. To profile the fungal and bacterial community composition, the researchers sequenced ITS2 and 16S rRNA gene markers in faecal samples from four nonhuman primate species and three different human groups.

"Understanding how the fungal community adapts and interacts with bacterial communities in response to different factors such as diet and lifestyle would provide a basic framework for investigating their potential roles in human health and disease," Sharma said.

Similarities between captive apes and humans living industrialized lifestyles suggest that diet and lifestyle factors may have a greater influence than genetics in shaping gut fungal community composition and fungal-bacterial interactions. These findings are supported by higher similarities in fungal composition between humans eating non-industrialized diets and wild apes.

Overall, the findings suggest that ecological, behavioural, and individual factors all play a role in shaping the primate gut mycobiome, or the communities of fungi that colonize primates' gastrointestinal tracts.

What Researchers Found:

The host-ecological factors, including dietary lifestyle, had a strong influence on the fungal community composition in the primate's gut. In contrast, the gut bacterial fraction appears to be more influenced by host genetics.

Ecological differences between and within primate populations influence not only fungal communities but also how fungi and bacteria co-exist in the gut. Fungal and bacterial taxa with similar functional potential may interact to perform common metabolic functions, such as carbohydrate degradation.

"These findings suggest that the external environment has a significant impact on the fungi that populate communities in the primate gut; whether those fungi are primarily transient (short-lived) or long-term colonizers remains unknown. Perhaps a more interesting question is whether the lack of fungal diversity in western/industrialized human populations has an impact on health” Andres Gomez, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Animal Science, echoed this sentiment.

"Because environmental factors are probably more important than host genetics in shaping the mycobiome, we could consider the mycobiome to be a better indicator of a healthy and stable ecosystem in which the primates live," said Klara Judita Petrzelkova, Ph.D., a researcher at the Czech Academy of Sciences' Institute of Vertebrate Biology. Measuring the contribution of specific food sources to determining mechanisms of fungal assembly in the gastrointestinal tract would be an important step forward in the future.

(Source: Phys Org)

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