Links between environment, diet, and the hunter-gatherer microbiome

Gut Microbes. 2019;10(2):216-227. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2018.1494103. Epub 2018 Aug 17.


The study of traditional populations provides a view of human-associated microbes unperturbed by industrialization, as well as a window into the microbiota that co-evolved with humans. Here we discuss our recent work characterizing the microbiota from the Hadza hunter-gatherers of Tanzania. We found seasonal shifts in bacterial taxa, diversity, and carbohydrate utilization by the microbiota. When compared to the microbiota composition from other populations around the world, the Hadza microbiota shares bacterial families with other traditional societies that are rare or absent from microbiotas of industrialized nations. We present additional observations from the Hadza microbiota and their lifestyle and environment, including microbes detected on hands, water, and animal sources, how the microbiota varies with sex and age, and the short-term effects of introducing agricultural products into the diet. In the context of our previously published findings and of these additional observations, we discuss a path forward for future work.

Keywords: Hadza; defining/profiling gut microbiome; diet; environment; human; hunter-gatherer; microbiome; seasonal.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Biodiversity
  • Diet / ethnology*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / metabolism
  • Environmental Microbiology*
  • Feces / microbiology
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome*
  • Humans
  • Life Style / ethnology*
  • Male
  • Seasons
  • Tanzania / ethnology


  • Dietary Carbohydrates