Structure of chimpanzee gut microbiomes across tropical Africa

Clifton P.Bueno De Mesquita, Lauren M. Nichols, Matthew J. Gebert, Caihong Vanderburgh, Gaëlle Bocksberger, Jack D. Lester, Ammie K. Kalan, Paula Dieguez, Maureen S. McCarthy, Anthony Agbor, Paula Álvarez Varona, Ayuk Emmanuel Ayimisin, Mattia Bessone, Rebecca Chancellor, Heather Cohen, Charlotte Coupland, Tobias Deschner, Villard Ebot Egbe, Annemarie Goedmakers, Anne Céline GranjonCyril C. Grueter, Josephine Head, R. Adriana Hernandez-Aguilar, Kathryn J. Jeffery, Sorrel Jones, Parag Kadam, Michael Kaiser, Juan Lapuente, Bradley Larson, Sergio Marrocoli, David Morgan, Badru Mugerwa, Felix Mulindahabi, Emily Neil, Protais Niyigaba, Liliana Pacheco, Alex K. Piel, Martha M. Robbins, Aaron Rundus, Crickette M. Sanz, Lilah Sciaky, Douglas Sheil, Volker Sommer, Fiona A. Stewart, Els Ton, Joost Van Schijndel, Virginie Vergnes, Erin G. Wessling, Roman M. Wittig, Yisa Ginath Yuh, Kyle Yurkiw, Klaus Zuberbühler, Jan F. Gogarten, Anna Heintz-Buschart, Alexandra N. Muellner-Riehl, Christophe Boesch, Hjalmar S. Kühl, Noah Fierer, Mimi Arandjelovic, Robert R. Dunn

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Understanding variation in host-associated microbial communities is important given the relevance of microbiomes to host physiology and health. Using 560 fecal samples collected from wild chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes) across their range, we assessed how geography, genetics, climate, vegetation, and diet relate to gut microbial community structure (prokaryotes, eukaryotic parasites) at multiple spatial scales. We observed a high degree of regional specificity in the microbiome composition, which was associated with host genetics, available plant foods, and potentially with cultural differences in tool use, which affect diet. Genetic differences drove community composition at large scales, while vegetation and potentially tool use drove within-region differences, likely due to their influence on diet. Unlike industrialized human populations in the United States, where regional differences in the gut microbiome are undetectable, chimpanzee gut microbiomes are far more variable across space, suggesting that technological developments have decoupled humans from their local environments, obscuring regional differences that could have been important during human evolution.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere01269-20
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


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