The latest Microbiome research from Nature Communications

1. Low-dose penicillin in early life induces long-term changes in murine gut microbiota, brain cytokines and behavior
(by Leclercq et al., Nature Communications 8, 15062 (2017), doi:10.1038/ncomms15062) (Full-text PDF)
There is increasing concern about potential long-term effects of antibiotics on children’s health. Epidemiological studies have revealed that early-life antibiotic exposure can increase the risk of developing immune and metabolic diseases, and rodent studies have shown that administration of high doses of antibiotics has long-term effects on brain neurochemistry and behaviour. Here we investigate whether low-dose penicillin in late pregnancy and early postnatal life induces long-term effects in the offspring of mice. We find that penicillin has lasting effects in both sexes on gut microbiota, increases cytokine expression in frontal cortex, modifies blood–brain barrier integrity and alters behaviour. The antibiotic-treated mice exhibit impaired anxiety-like and social behaviours, and display aggression. Concurrent supplementation with Lactobacillus rhamnosus JB-1 prevents some of these alterations. These results warrant further studies on the potential role of early-life antibiotic use in the development of neuropsychiatric disorders, and the possible attenuation of these by beneficial bacteria.
2. Bacterial community dynamics are linked to patterns of coral heat tolerance
(by Ziegler et al., Nature Communications 8, 14213 (2017)
(Full-text PDF)
Ocean warming threatens corals and the coral reef ecosystem. Nevertheless, corals can be adapted to their thermal environment and inherit heat tolerance across generations. In addition, the diverse microbes that associate with corals have the capacity for more rapid change, potentially aiding the adaptation of long-lived corals. Here, we show that the microbiome of reef corals is different across thermally variable habitats and changes over time when corals are reciprocally transplanted. Exposing these corals to thermal bleaching conditions changes the microbiome for heat-sensitive corals, but not for heat-tolerant corals growing in habitats with natural high heat extremes. Importantly, particular bacterial taxa predict the coral host response in a short-term heat stress experiment. Such associations could result from parallel responses of the coral and the microbial community to living at high natural temperatures. A competing hypothesis is that the microbial community and coral heat tolerance are causally linked.
3. Unraveling the processes shaping mammalian gut microbiomes over evolutionary time
(by Groussin et al., Nature Communications 8, 14319 (2017)
(Full-text PDF)
Whether mammal–microbiome interactions are persistent and specific over evolutionary time is controversial. Here we show that host phylogeny and major dietary shifts have affected the distribution of different gut bacterial lineages and did so on vastly different bacterial phylogenetic resolutions. Diet mostly influences the acquisition of ancient and large microbial lineages. Conversely, correlation with host phylogeny is mostly seen among more recently diverged bacterial lineages, consistent with processes operating at similar timescales to host evolution. Considering microbiomes at appropriate phylogenetic scales allows us to model their evolution along the mammalian tree and to infer ancient diets from the predicted microbiomes of mammalian ancestors. Phylogenetic analyses support co-speciation as having a significant role in the evolution of mammalian gut microbiome compositions. Highly co-speciating bacterial genera are also associated with immune diseases in humans, laying a path for future studies that probe these co-speciating bacteria for signs of co-evolution.

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