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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

Dispersal strategies shape persistence and evolution of human gut bacteria

Hildebrand, Falk; Gossmann, Toni, I; Frioux, Clemence; Ozkurt, Ezgi; Myers, Pernille Neve; Ferretti, Pamela; Kuhn, Michael; Bahram, Mohammad; Nielsen, Henrik Bjorn; Bork, Peer;


Human gut bacterial strains can co-exist with their hosts for decades, but little is known about how these microbes persist and disperse, and evolve thereby. Here, we examined these processes in 5,278 adult and infant fecal metagenomes, longitudinally sampled in individuals and families. Our analyses revealed that a subset of gut species is extremely persistent in individuals, families, and geographic regions, represented often by locally successful strains of the phylum Bacteroidota. These ''tenacious'' bacteria show high levels of genetic adaptation to the human host but a high probability of loss upon antibiotic interventions. By contrast, heredipersistent bacteria, notably Firmicutes, often rely on dispersal strategies with weak phylogeographic patterns but strong family transmissions, likely related to sporulation. These analyses describe how different dispersal strategies can lead to the long-term persistence of human gut microbes with implications for gut flora modulations.

Published in

Cell Host & Microbe

2021, volume: 29, number: 7, pages: 1167-1176
Publisher: CELL PRESS

Authors' information

Hildebrand, Falk
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Gossmann, Toni
University of Bielefeld
Frioux, Clemence
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Ozkurt, Ezgi
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI)
Myers, Pernille Neve
Technical University of Denmark
Ferretti, Pamela
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
Kuhn, Michael
European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)
University of Tartu
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Nielsen, Henrik Bjørn
Clinical Microbiomics A/S
Bork, Peer
University of Wurzburg

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