Ecological and Evolutionary Science

Microbiome Changes Seasonally in Hunter-Gatherers

A study investigating changes in the gut microbiomes of members of the Hadza tribe, a small community in Tanzania with a primarily hunter-gatherer lifestyle, found big seasonal shifts that reflected the food available at different times of year, including meat, berries, tubers, baobab fruit, and honey.  No matter what time of year it was, the diversity of the Hadza’s gut microbiome was high and also highly functional.

Map of United Republic of Tanzania 

In contrast, the microbiomes of industrialized populations do not have strong seasonal shifts, are less diverse, and can perform fewer functions(Hadza gut microbiomes could degrade a wider array of carbohydates than American gut microbiomes).  It is unclear what the health impacts of these losses might be, but the study paves the way for more research in this area.