The human gut contains a vast number of microorganisms known collectively as the 'gut microbiota'. Despite its importance in maintaining the health of the host, growing evidence suggests the gut microbiota may also be an important factor in the pathogenesis of various diseases, a number of which have shown a rapid increase in incidence over the past few decades. Factors including age, genetics, and diet may influence microbiota composition. We used diet inventories and 16S rDNA sequencing to characterize fecal samples from 98 individuals. Fecal communities clustered into previously described enterotypes were distinguished primarily by levels of Bacteroides and Prevotella. Enterotypes were associated with long-term diets, particularly protein and animal fat (Bacteroides) versus simple carbohydrates (Prevotella). Although the distinction of enterotypes as either discrete clusters or a continuum will require additional investigation, numerous studies have demonstrated the coexclusion of the closely related Prevotella and Bacteroides genera in the gut microbiota in healthy human subjects, where Prevotella appears to be a discriminatory taxon for residence in more agrarian societies. Ultimately, the impact of diet on the human gut microbiota may be an important environmental factor involved in the pathogenesis of disease states that show a rapidly increasing incidence in industrialized nations.
Copyright © 2013 Nestec Ltd., Vevey/S. Karger AG, Basel.