Microbial evolution and ecological opportunity in the gut environment

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Scanlan, Pauline D.
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The Royal Society
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Recent genomic and metagenomic studies have highlighted the presence of rapidly evolving microbial populations in the human gut. However, despite the fundamental implications of this intuitive finding for both basic and applied gut microbiome research, very little is known about the mode, tempo and potential functional consequences of microbial evolution in the guts of individual human hosts over a lifetime. Here I assess the potential relevance of ecological opportunity to bacterial adaptation, colonization and persistence in the neonate and germ-free mammalian gut environment as well as over the course of an individual lifetime using data emerging from mouse models as well as human studies to provide examples where possible. I then briefly outline how the continued development and application of experimental evolution approaches coupled to genomic and metagenomic analysis is essential to disentangling drift from selection and identifying specific drivers of evolution in the gut microbiome within and between individual human hosts and populations.
Gut microbiome , Colonization , Diversity , Evolution , Bacteria , Ecological opportunity , Microbiology , Ecology
Scanlan, P. D. (2019) 'Microbial evolution and ecological opportunity in the gut environment', Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 286(1915), 20191964. (9pp.) doi: 10.1098/rspb.2019.1964
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