Where do the phages in our gut come from? Check out our new @PNASNews study that uses a comparative approach to provide an ecological and evolutionary perspective to explore this question. doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2… A deeper dive into the findings in this thread 1/15 Image of grooming chimpanze...
Phages, the viruses infecting bacteria, are everywhere and very abundant in the human gut - yet we know little about where they come from. Studies suggest phages can impact our health, even acting as part of our acquired immune system (doi.org/10.1073/pnas.1…) 2/15
To get at this question, we examined the gut phages of 23 wild primate species living in different ecosystems across the globe, as well as from humans living in Europe and Africa. Surprisingly, we found relatives of most human associated phages in wild primates 3/15 Map indicating locations wh...
Primate taxa have distinct phage community compositions that exhibits a phylosymbiotic signal. What does that mean?? The more closely related two primate species, the more similar their phage communities. The structure of these communities recapitulates the host phylogeny. 4/15 Wild non-human primate and ...
Phylosymbiotic signal is often inferred to suggest co-speciation of microbes and hosts, but to really get at that we needed to look at phage + host phylogenies. We found that for many phages, their relationships were a near mirror image of evolutionary history of primates. 5/15
This pattern of co-divergence suggests some phages maintained an association with specific primate lineages over millions of years, despite these primates in some cases sharing the same ecosystem (and even consuming other primate species!) 6/15
We sometimes observe patterns of co-divergence between primates and the viruses that infect them, but phages infect bacteria, not primate cells, and we were surprised to find that some phages also showed such a pattern. How can that be?!? 7/15
To get at this we, explored the phages of the @AmboseliBaboons w/ awesome colleagues @jtung5 + @ArchieLab - this is how science should work - we approached them with our question and idea for how their data might help answer it… and they dived in adding so many great ideas! 8/15
Neighboring @AmboseliBaboons social groups harbored unique phage communities, with close grooming partners having more similar phage communities. This, even after controlling for similarities in the baboon’s bacterial communities and the genetic relationship of the baboons. 9/15 Within-species phage ecolog...
This highlights the power of long-term studies of wild primates like the @AmboseliBaboons who've been followed for decades. Researchers know the genealogy + grooming partners + also collect fecal samples, sometimes across entire baboon lifetimes; unimaginable for humans! 10/15
So how flexible is this association of primates and phages? To get at this we examined phages of primates in zoos + the phages of their keepers. Captive primates lost the phages they normally harbor in the wild; these phages have all been replaced by human-associated ones! 11/15 Figure 4: Captive primate p...
So what next? We think phages could serve as a marker of microbial transmission at human-wildlife interfaces to identify high-risk areas for pathogen transmission – a tool we could really use to target mitigation efforts 12/15
We documented that between species transmission of phages is feasible, at least in captivity – now we need to understand if and where it occurs + what impact these phages might have on wild primate and human health 13/15
This was only possible w/ @mruehlemann @jtung5 @ArchieLab @CorBa_Micro @MTamfum @an_franke @Leendertz_Lab Roman Wittig, Tobias Deschner, Chantal Akoua-Koffi, Martha Robbins, Grit Schubert, Martin Surbeck, Klaus Zuberbühler + John Baines. Such fantastic collaborators! 14/15
Many more people to thank – which is what acknowledgments are for, so please check them out too! Really happy with how this came together! 16/16
P.S. Ever grateful to @Leendertz_Lab and @SebastienCalvi1 for giving me so much encouragement to explore different ideas - and so much help in bringing them to fruition - pleasure working with you!
An extra slash caused a problem with the link... doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2…

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