1. Ecology
  2. Genomics and Evolutionary Biology
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Social networks predict gut microbiome composition in wild baboons

  1. Jenny Tung
  2. Luis B Barreiro
  3. Michael B Burns
  4. Jean-Christophe Grenier
  5. Josh Lynch
  6. Laura E Grieneisen
  7. Jeanne Altmann
  8. Susan C Alberts
  9. Ran Blekhman
  10. Elizabeth A Archie Is a corresponding author
  1. Duke University, United States
  2. University of Montreal, Canada
  3. University of Minnesota, United States
  4. University of Notre Dame, United States
  5. National Museums of Kenya, Kenya
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Cite as: eLife 2015;4:e05224 doi: 10.7554/eLife.05224

Abstract

Social relationships have profound effects on health in humans and other primates, but the mechanisms that explain this relationship are not well understood. Using shotgun metagenomic data from wild baboons, we found that social group membership and social network relationships predicted both the taxonomic structure of the gut microbiome and the structure of genes encoded by gut microbial species. Rates of interaction directly explained variation in the gut microbiome, even after controlling for diet, kinship, and shared environments. They therefore strongly implicate direct physical contact among social partners in the transmission of gut microbial species. We identified 51 socially structured taxa, which were significantly enriched for anaerobic and non-spore-forming lifestyles. Our results argue that social interactions are an important determinant of gut microbiome composition in natural animal populations-a relationship with important ramifications for understanding how social relationships influence health, as well as the evolution of group living.

Article and author information

Author details

  1. Jenny Tung

    1. Department of Evolutionary Anthropology, Duke University, Durham, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  2. Luis B Barreiro

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  3. Michael B Burns

    1. Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  4. Jean-Christophe Grenier

    1. Department of Pediatrics, Sainte-Justine Hospital Research Centre, University of Montreal, Montreal, Canada
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  5. Josh Lynch

    1. Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development; Department of Ecology, Evolution, and Behavior, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  6. Laura E Grieneisen

    1. Department of Biological Sciences, University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  7. Jeanne Altmann

    1. Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  8. Susan C Alberts

    1. Department of Biology, Duke University, Durham, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  9. Ran Blekhman

    1. Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, United States
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.
  10. Elizabeth A Archie

    1. Institute of Primate Research, National Museums of Kenya, Nairobi, Kenya
    For correspondence
    1. earchie@nd.edu
    Competing interests
    The authors declare that no competing interests exist.

Reviewing Editor

  1. Eric Alm, Reviewing Editor, MIT, United States

Publication history

  1. Received: October 17, 2014
  2. Accepted: February 27, 2015
  3. Accepted Manuscript published: March 16, 2015 (version 1)
  4. Version of Record published: March 31, 2015 (version 2)

Copyright

© 2015, Tung et al.

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License permitting unrestricted use and redistribution provided that the original author and source are credited.

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