Gordon's research underscores the need understand the workings of gut microbiomes among people of different ages living in different parts of the world, especially as scientists consider manipulating intestinal microbes to improve health and nutrition. In a study published online May 9 in Nature, he and his colleagues surveyed the gut microbiomes of more than 500 healthy individuals, ranging in age from one month to more than 80 years, who lived in villages in Malawi, the Amazon region of Venezuela and in three U.S. cities.
The researchers found a similarity across cultures in the way the gut microbiome matures, especially in the first three years of life. But they also noted distinct differences in the microbiomes of babies, children and adults depending on where they lived.
The differences were most notable between individuals living in the U.S. compared to those in Malawi or Venezuela, and seemed to be linked to diet. Malawian and Venezuelan gut communities were rich in genes that break down complex sugars and starches, like those found in cassava and corn, while gut communities in individuals in the U.S., who typically eat high-protein diets, were more heavily loaded with genes for breaking down amino acids.
Other scientists involved in the Gates Foundation project include: Per Ashorn, MD, PhD, at the University of Tampere School of Medicine in Finland; Kathryn Dewey, PhD, University of California, Davis; Michael Gottlieb, PhD, Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (NIH); Rob Knight, PhD, University of Colorado, Boulder; Kenneth Maleta, PhD, University of Malawi College of Medicine; David Mills, University of California, Davis; Jeremy Nicholson, PhD, Imperial College, London; Linda Saif, P
|Contact: Caroline Arbanas|
Washington University School of Medicine