There is a close link between humans and microbiomes. Microbiomes are the communities of microbes that can be found inside and on the human body. In the past, researchers believed that they could estimate the traits of an animal’s gut microbiome by analyzing closely related species. A new study argues that while there are some similarities in gut microbiomes among many mammalian species, select types of evolutionary adaptations can lead to entirely different microbial populations.
The team behind the new study decided to focus on the similarities between birds and bats, and the results are quite impressive. For the sake of the study, the researchers contacted a large number of institutions from all over the world and collected fecal samples from over 900 vertebrate species.
At the start of the initiative, the researchers thought that they would encounter numerous similarities between the gut microbes of animals who shared a similar diet. The results inferred that bats and birds do not share microbiomes as relationships with specific bacteria aren’t encountered among both species.
Evolutionary Adaptations Trigger Different Gut Microbiome
Previous research suggested that the connection between mammals and their microbes is quite old. Bats are unique among mammals since their gut microbiomes cannot be predicted when they types and quantities of bacteria found in the guts of related species were observed. The pattern is similar among birds, which also carry unpredictable microbial communities.
The ability to fly is now associated with a dynamic microbiome as birds and bats sport microbiomes, which aren’t on par with the evolutionary relationships of the hosts. This variability is quite interesting since it indicates that a specific microbial balance may not be essential for the sustenance of healthy digestion.
It is theorized that the evolutionary requirements for the use of flight can have a significant influence over the microbiome. Future studies could harness the new information in an attempt to understand more about the host-microbe relationship.