Study Title:

Macroecological dynamics of gut microbiota.

Study Abstract

The gut microbiota is now widely recognized as a dynamic ecosystem that plays an important role in health and disease. Although current sequencing technologies make it possible to explore how relative abundances of host-associated bacteria change over time, the biological processes governing microbial dynamics remain poorly understood. Therefore, as in other ecological systems, it is important to identify quantitative relationships describing various aspects of gut microbiota dynamics. In the present study, we use multiple high-resolution time series data obtained from humans and mice to demonstrate that, despite their inherent complexity, gut microbiota dynamics can be characterized by several robust scaling relationships. Interestingly, the observed patterns are highly similar to those previously identified across diverse ecological communities and economic systems, including the temporal fluctuations of animal and plant populations and the performance of publicly traded companies. Specifically, we find power-law relationships describing short- and long-term changes in gut microbiota abundances, species residence and return times, and the correlation between the mean and the temporal variance of species abundances. The observed scaling laws are altered in mice receiving different diets and are affected by context-specific perturbations in humans. We use the macroecological relationships to reveal specific bacterial taxa, the dynamics of which are substantially perturbed by dietary and environmental changes. Overall, our results suggest that a quantitative macroecological framework will be important for characterizing and understanding the complex dynamics of diverse microbial communities.

Study Information

Nat Microbiol. 2020 May;5(5):768-775. doi: 10.1038/s41564-020-0685-1. Epub 2020 Apr 13. PMID: 32284567.

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