In a study published on August 24th, 2017 on the gut microbiomes of the Hadza people of Tanzania, several key findings were brought forth on how our microbiomes work. The microbiome is the trillions of bacteria cells that live in and on all multicellular organisms. Our knowledge on microbiomes is somewhat limited, but that didn’t stop this team of scientists, led by Justin Sonnenburg of Stanford University, who aimed to track the differences between the microbiomes of different peoples and to catalogue the vast array of bacteria that the microbiome is comprised of.
The Hadza, as a hunter-gatherer group, vary their diet heavily depending on the Tanzanian seasons. During the dry season, they have more access to hunted game. During the wet season, their diet is mainly comprised of berries and honey. The bacteria present in their microbiomes when tested during the different seasons reflects this change in diet. Microbes such as the phylum Bacteriodetes varies heavily with the seasons, a trend which has been seen in several other nonindustrialized groups.
The researches then compared their findings among the Hadza to industrialized peoples as well as other nonindustrialized peoples and found that “the groups of microbes that varied seasonally in the Hadza were largely absent in the industrialized microbiomes, but present in the microbiomes of people who live similarly to them.” This is further evidence on the relationship between the human microbiome and environment that could play a key role in the future as we discover how the microbiome affects human health.
For the original article on this study, click here